This paper presents the impacts of frazil ice jams on the variation in water level at the Hequ Reach of the Yellow River in China. Based on both field observations and experimental studies, it is found that both the evolution of frazil ice jams and the associated variation in water level depend upon an interesting interaction between hydraulic variables during the ice-jammed period. In particular, the critical Froude number governing the formation of river ice jams and their upstream propagation is about 0.09. The water level during ice-jammed periods depends not only on the slope of the water surface and the water level under open-water conditions with the same discharge, but also on the length of the ice jam and the ice concentration in the water. Moreover, the field investigations show that the thickness of river ice strongly influences the variation in water level during ice-jammed periods. Empirical relationships are derived to quantify the relationship between the highest water level during ice periods and related physical parameters. To confirm the field results, and to explore the influence of ice discharge on the variation in water level, experimental studies were also conducted. These results confirm that the ice concentration plays a key role in the variation in water level and the jam thickness. Given the complexity of the jamming processes, surprisingly good agreement is observed between field and experimental investigations.

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