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Ice engineering is a growing field of endeavor that seeks to provide technical analyses, methods, and engineering solutions to ice problems—that is, any situation where the effects of ice increase operational and maintenance requirements of water control projects, impede navigation, or adversely impact the environment in cold regions. There's a wide range of these problems, from ice jam flooding and ice accumulation in lock chambers, to ice buildup at water intakes and the destructive forces that moving ice exerts on river or coastal structures.

The Ice Engineering Group at CRREL was created to research, analyze and solve ice problems in and around water bodies. The technical experience of our staff and our in-depth research and field capabilities combine with CRREL's unique Ice Engineering Facility to form one of the premier ice engineering organizations in the world.

Map of the United States with noted historic ice jam locations.
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In the Spotlight: 27 November 2013
CRREL Participates in Test Release
from Ririe Reservoir in Idaho Falls, ID

To potentially increase storage over the winter season, the US Army Corps of Engineers Walla Walla District is currently evaluating flood control operations at Ririe Reservoir. Because there is little experience with winter releases and a previous winter release resulted in minor flooding, it is important to understand the potential problems associated with releases in these conditions. Therefore, the Corps conducted a Release Test on 10–13 February 2013. Throughout the test, instruments took detailed measurements of the water temperature, stage, and discharge along the Willow Creek channel; and personnel observed the dynamic ice conditions.

Two members of the Ice Engineering Group at CRREL participated in the test release from Ririe Reservoir, located near Idaho Falls, ID from 8–12 February 2013. Personnel from the Corps Walla Walla District, the Bureau of Reclamation, USGS, State of Idaho, and local irrigation districts also participated. The release was conducted in frigid weather to test the feasibility of modifying the current winter time operations of the reservoir. The release was through 15 miles of the undeveloped Willow Creek and then through 7.7 miles of the normally dry overflow channel to the Snake River. Prior to the release, CRREL personnel worked with the Walla Walla to characterize the snow conditions in the overflow channel and the ice conditions in Willow Creek. The release commenced at 1400 on Sunday, 10 February, with an initial release of 150 cfs and was increased in a series of steps to a maximum of 500 cfs that was held for 24 hours. The flow, depth, water temperature, and meteorological data that were collected during the test release were analyzed and results are detailed in ERDC\CRREL TR-13-10, Ririe Dan Release Test Asssessment.

The test included an initial release of 150 cfs for 28 hr; a rapid increase to 300 cfs, which was held for 14.5 hr; and another rapid increase to 500 cfs, which was held for 24 hr. The flow was then shut off. Neither the Initial Release Wave nor subsequent flow significantly removed, dislodged, or eroded snow in the channel; the snow melted only after a thermal melt-out front advanced downstream. No out-of-bank flooding occurred. As a result of the information gathered from this Release Test and from one in 2011, this report presents a series of recommendations for future wintertime releases.


Formerly the Ice Jam Clearhouse

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Page last updated 2/19/14.

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