1. IntroductionTropical mountainous ecosystems are recognized as providers of valuable ecological and hydrological services (Viviroli et al, 2007). In Central America, the Páramo, a high‐elevation tropical grassland ecosystem, extends over ~ 200 km2 in Costa Rica and Panama, with ~50% of this area located within the Chirripó National Park between 3,100 and 3,820 m asl (-83.49°, 9.46°). Vegetation mostly consists of 0.5 to 2.5 m tall bamboo dominated (Chusquea subtessellata ) grasslands, covering up to 60% of the total Páramo area in Costa Rica (Fig.1a). The climate is controlled by the northeast trade winds, the latitudinal migration of the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ), cold continental outbreaks (i.e., northerly winds), and the seasonal influence of Caribbean cyclones. These circulation patterns produce two rainfall maxima on the Pacific slope, one in June and one in September, which are interrupted by a relative minimum between July-August, known as the Mid-Summer Drought, due to intensification of trade winds over the Caribbean Sea (Magaña et al., 1999; Waylen, 1996). The wettest season extends from May to November (contributing up to 89% of the annual precipitation), whereas the driest season is from December to April (Fig. 2a; Esquivel-Hernández et al., 2018). The surface water system of Chirripó is characterized by a lake district which comprises approximately 30 lakes of glacial origin and streams flowing down the Caribbean and Pacific slopes (Fig 1b). Lake catchments are characterized by steep slopes that promote rapid hydrological responses such as fast water‐level changes. Input of water to these glacial lakes is mostly controlled by the seasonal inputs of rainfall, which mix up with stream and subsurface waters. In April 2015, the Chirripó Hydrological Research Site (CHRS) was installed with the goal of advancing the understanding of the hydrological functioning in the Central American Páramo using environmental tracers (i.e., water stable isotopes) in combination with hydrometric data. A detailed map of CHRS is available in Esquivel-Hernández et al. (2019).
The active rock glacier “Innere Ölgrube”, and its catchment area (Ötztal Alps, Austria) are assessed using various hydro(geo)logical tools to provide a thorough catchment characterization and to quantify temporal variations in recharge and discharge components. During the period from June 2014 to July 2018, an average contribution derived from snowmelt, ice melt and rainfall of 35,8 %, 27,6 % and 36,6 %, respectively, is modelled for the catchment using a rainfall-runoff model. Discharge components of the rock glacier springs are distinguished using isotopic data as well as other natural and artificial tracer data, when considering the potential sources rainfall, snowmelt, ice melt and groundwater. Seasonal as well as diurnal variations in runoff are quantified and the importance of shallow groundwater within this rock glacier-influenced catchment is emphasized. Water derived from ice melt is suggested to be provided mainly by melting of two small cirque glaciers within the catchment and subordinately by melting of permafrost ice of the rock glacier. The active rock glacier is characterized by a layered internal structure with an unfrozen base layer responsible for groundwater storage and retarded runoff, a main permafrost body contributing little to the discharge (at the moment) by permafrost thaw and an active layer responsible for fast lateral flow on top of the permafrost body. Snowmelt contributes at least 1/3rd of the annual recharge. During droughts, meltwater derived from two cirque glaciers provides runoff with diurnal runoff variations; however, this discharge pattern will change as these cirque glaciers will ultimately disappear in the future. The storage-discharge characteristics of the investigated active rock glacier catchment are an example of a shallow groundwater aquifer in alpine catchments that ought to be considered when analysing (future) river runoff characteristics in alpine catchments as these provide retarded runoff during periods with little or no recharge.
Rock glaciers are increasingly influencing the hydrology and water chemistry of Alpine catchments, with important implications for drinking water quality and ecosystem health under a changing climate. During summers of 2017 - 2019, we monitored the physical and chemical conditions of springs emerging from two active rock glaciers (ZRG and SRG) with distinct geomorphological settings in the Eastern Italian Alps (Solda/Sulden catchment). Both springs had constantly cold waters (1.4 ± 0.1 °C), and their ionic composition was dominated by SO42-, HCO3-, Ca2+ and Mg2+. Concentrations of major ions and trace elements, and values of water isotopes (δ18O, δ2H), increased towards autumn with an asymptotic trend at SRG, and a positive unimodal pattern at ZRG, where concentrations peaked 60 - 80 days after the end of the snowmelt. Wavelet analysis on electrical conductivity (EC) and water temperature records revealed daily cycles only at SRG, and significant weekly/biweekly fluctuations at both springs attributable to oscillations of meteorological conditions. Several rainfall events triggered a transient (0.5 - 2 hrs) EC drop and water temperature rise (dilution and warming) at SRG, whereas only intense rainfall events occasionally increased EC at ZRG (solute enrichment and thermal buffering), with a long-lasting effect (6 - 48 hrs). Our results, supported by a limited but emerging literature, suggest that: i) the distinctive composition of the bedrock drives different concentrations of major ions and trace elements in rock glacier springs; ii) pond-like and stream-like springs have distinct fluctuations of water parameters at different timescales; iii) peaks of EC/solute concentrations indicate a seasonal window of major permafrost thaw for rock glaciers feeding pond-like springs. These results provide a first quantitative description of the hydrological seasonality in rock glacier outflows, and their hydrochemical response to precipitation events, bringing relevant information for water management in the European Alps under climate change.
Aquatic vegetation, hydraulics and sediment transport have complex interactions that are not yet well understood. These interactions are important for sediment conveyance, sediment sequestration, phasing of sediment delivery from runoff events, and management of ecosystem health in lowland streams. To address this knowledge gap detailed field measurements of sediment transport through natural flexible aquatic vegetation are required to supplement and validate laboratory results. This paper contributes a field study of suspended sediment transport through aquatic vegetation and includes mechanical removal of aquatic vegetation with a weed cutting boat. It also provides methods to quantify vegetation cover through remote sensing with Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and estimate biomass from ground truth sampling. Suspended sediment concentrations were highly dependent on aquatic vegetation abundance, and the distance upstream that had been cleared of aquatic vegetation. When the study reach was fully vegetated (i.e. cover >80%), the maximum recorded SSC was 14.6 g/m3 (during a fresh with discharge of 2.47 m3/s), during weed cutting operations SSC was 76.8 g/m3 at 0.84 m3/s (weedcutting boat 0.5-1 km upstream from study reach), however following weed cutting operations (4.6 km cleared upstream), SSC was 139.0 g/m3 at a discharge of 1.52 m3/s. The data indicates that fine sediment was being sequestered by aquatic vegetation and likely remobilised after vegetation removal. Investigation of suspended sediment spatial dynamics illustrated changes in particle size distribution due to preferential settling of coarse particles within aquatic vegetation. Hydraulic resistance in the study reach (parameterized by Manning’s n) dropped by over 70% following vegetation cutting. Prior to cutting hydraulic resistance was discharge dependent, while post cutting hydraulic resistance was approximately invariant of discharge. Aerial surveying captured interesting changes in aquatic vegetation cover, where some very dense regions of aquatic vegetation were naturally removed leaving behind unvegetated riverbed and fine sediment.
Peatlands are globally important long-term sinks of carbon, however there is concern that enhanced moss moisture stress due to climate change mediated drought will reduce moss productivity making these ecosystems vulnerable to carbon loss and associated long-term degradation. Peatlands are resilient to summer drought moss stress because of negative ecohydrological feedbacks that generally maintain a wet peat surface, but where feedbacks may be contingent on peat depth. We tested this ‘survival of the deepest’ hypothesis by examining water table position, near-surface moisture content, and soil water tension in peatlands that differ in size, peat depth, and catchment area during a summer drought. All shallow sites lost their WT (i.e. the groundwater well was dry) for considerable time during the drought period. Near-surface soil water tension increased dramatically at shallow sites following water table loss, increasing ~5–7.5× greater at shallow sites compared to deep sites. During a mid-summer drought intensive field survey we found that 60%–67% of plots at shallow sites exceeded a 100 mb tension threshold used to infer moss water stress. Unlike the shallow sites, tension typically did not exceed this 100 mb threshold at the deep sites. Using species dependent water content - chlorophyll fluorescence thresholds and relations between volumetric water content and water table depth, Monte Carlo simulations suggest that moss had nearly twice the likelihood of being stressed at shallow sites (0.38 ± 0.24) compared to deep sites (0.22 ± 0.18). This study provides evidence that mosses in shallow peatland may be particularly vulnerable to warmer and drier climates in the future, but where species composition may play an important role. We argue that a critical ‘threshold’ peat depth specific for different hydrogeological and hydroclimatic regions can be used to assess what peatlands are especially vulnerable to climate change mediated drought.
Groundwater age is often used to estimate groundwater recharge through a simplified analytical approach. This estimated recharge is thought to be representative of the mean recharge between the point of entry and the sampling point. However, given the complexity in actual recharge, whether the mean recharge is reasonable is still unclear. This study examined the validity of the method to estimate long-term average groundwater recharge and the possibility of obtaining reasonable spatial recharge pattern. We first validated our model in producing reasonable age distributions using a constant flux boundary condition. We then generated different flow fields and age patterns by using various spatially-varying flux boundary conditions with different magnitudes and wavelengths. Groundwater recharge was estimated and analyzed afterwards using the method at the spatial scale. We illustrated the main findings with a field example in the end. Our results suggest that we can estimate long-term average groundwater recharge with 10% error in many parts of an aquifer. The size of these areas decreases with the increase in both the amplitude and the wavelength. The chance of obtaining a reasonable groundwater recharge is higher if an age sample is collected from the middle of an aquifer and at downstream areas. Our study also indicates that the method can also be used to estimate local groundwater recharge if age samples are collected close to the water table. However, care must be taken to determine groundwater age regardless of conditions.
Clay aquitards are semipermeable membranes that allow groundwater flow while retarding solute migration have been researched extensively but also subjected to much debate. In this study, we collected clay samples from drilling cores (30–90m) in the Hengshui area located in the Hebei Plain, then extracted pore water using a high-pressure squeezing device. Vertical hydrochemical and isotopic profile variation trends for the pore water were revealed using hydrochemical (Cl－, Na+, Ca2+, K+, Mg2+, and SO42-) and stable isotopic measurements of H, O, and Cl. The results showed that the hydrochemical clay interlayer pore water of the saline aquifer is Cl•SO4-Na•Mg type and the average total dissolved solids（TDS）is 10.17g/L. The hydrochemical clay aquitard pore water is of the Cl•SO4-Na•Ca type with an average TDS of 1.9g/L. The hydrochemical clay interlayer pore water of aquifer II is of Cl-Na•Ca type with an average TDS of 1.1g/L. Our results showed that the water quality of the aquifer II is not affected by the upper part of saline aquifer, thus the clay aquitard acts as a significant barrier to salt movement. A polarization layer concentrated in ions was formed between the upper part of saline aquifer and the clay aquitard. The concentration polarization layer increases the salt-inhibition effect. Isotpic H, O, and Cl results showed significant fractionation. The pore water of aquifer II lacked heavy isotopes(D、18O、37Cl), but had significant heavy isotope enrichment in the concentrated polarized layer (the δD value was -76‰, the δ18O value was -8.4‰, and the δ37Cl value was 1.59‰). Hyperfiltration thus played a significant role in isotope fractionation.
Soil moisture plays a significant role in land-atmosphere interactions. Changing fractions of latent and sensible heat fluxes caused by soil moisture variations can affect near-surface air temperature, thus influencing the cooling effect of the oasis in arid regions. In this study, the framework for the evaporative fraction (EF) dependence on soil moisture is used to analyze the impacts of soil moisture variation on near-surface air temperature and the oasis effect. The results showed that the contribution rate of soil moisture to EF was significantly higher than that of EF to temperature. Under the interaction of temperature sensitivity to EF and EF to soil moisture, the ∂T/∂ϴ presented a similar tempo-spatial variation with both of the above. It was most significant in oasis areas during summer (−1.676), while it was weaker in plain desert areas during the autumn (−0.071). In the study region, the effect of soil moisture variation on air temperature can reach 0.018–0.242 K for different land-cover types in summer. The maximum variation of soil moisture in summer can alter air temperature by up to 0.386 K. The difference in temperature variability between the oasis and desert areas promoted the formation of the oasis effect. For different oasis, the multi-year average oasis cold effect index (OCI) ranged from −1.36 K to −0.26 K, while average summer OCI ranged from −1.38 K to −0.29 K. The lower bound of the cooling effect of oasis ranged from −4.97 to −1.69 K. The analysis framework and results of this study will provide a new perspective for further research on the evolution process of the oasis effect and water-heat balance in arid areas.
Management of water, regionally, nationally and globally will continue to be a priority and complex undertaking. In riverine systems, biotic components like flora and fauna, play critical roles in filtering water so it is available for human use and consumption. Preservation of ecosystems and associated ecosystem functions is therefore vital. In highly regulated large river basins, natural ecosystems are often supported through provision of environmental flows. Flow delivery, however, should be underpinned by rigorous monitoring to identify and prioritise biotic water requirements. Broadscale monitoring solutions are thus integral and for woody tree vegetation species, this is can be via measurement of field evapotranspiration, regionally scaled using remote sensing. However, as there is generally a mismatch between field data collection area and remote sensing pixel size, new methods are required to proportion tree evapotranspiration based on tree fractional canopy area per pixel. Within, we present a novel method to derive tree fractional canopy cover (FTCC) at 20 m resolution, in semi-arid and arid floodplain areas. The method employs LiDAR as a canopy area field measurement proxy (10 m resolution). Sentinel-1 and Sentinel-2, radar and multispectral imagery, were used in Random forest analysis, undertaken to develop a predictive FTCC model trained using LiDAR for two regions in the Murray-Darling Basin. A predictor model, combing the results of both regions, was able to explain between 85-91% of FTCC variation when compared to LiDAR FTCC, output in 10% increments. Development of this method underpins the advancement of woody vegetation monitoring to inform environmental flow management in the Murray-Darling Basin. The method and fine scale outputs will also be of value to other catchment management concerns such as altered catchment water yields related to bushfires and as such, has application to water management worldwide.
This study focuses on a 10-m2 plot within a granitic hillslope in Cevennes mountainous area in France, in order to study infiltration and subsurface hydrological processes during heavy rainfalls and flash floods. The monitoring device included water content at several depths (0-70cm for the shallow soil water; 0-10m for the deep water) during both intense artificial and natural rainfall events, chemical and physical tracers, time-lapse electrical resistivity tomography. During the most intense events, the infiltrated water was estimated to be some hundreds of millimeters, which largely exceeds the topsoil capacity (≤40 cm deep in most of the cases). The weathered/fractured rock area below the soil clearly has an active role in the water storage and sub-surface flow dynamics. Vertical flow was dominant in the first 0-10m, and lateral flow was effective at 8-10 m depth, at the top of the saturated area. The speed of the vertical flow was estimated between 1 and 10 m/h, whereas it was estimated between 0.1 and 1 m/h for the lateral flow. The interpretation of the experiments led to a local pattern of the 2D-hydrological processes and profile properties. It suggests that fast triggering of floods at the catchment scale cannot be explained by a mass transfer within the hillslope, but should be due to a pressure wave propagation through the bedrock fractures, which allows exfiltration of the water downstream the hillslope.
Catchment-scale response functions, such as transit time distribution (TTD) and evapotranspiration time distribution (ETTD), are considered fundamental descriptors of a catchment’s hydrologic and ecohydrologic responses to spatially and temporally varying precipitation inputs. Yet, estimating these functions is challenging, especially in headwater catchments where data collection is complicated by rugged terrain, or in semi-arid or sub-humid areas where precipitation is infrequent. Hence, we developed practical approaches for estimating both TTD and ETTD from commonly available tracer flux data in hydrologic inflows and outflows without requiring continuous observations. Using the weighted wavelet spectral analysis method of Kirchner and Neal  for δ18O in precipitation and stream water, we specifically calculated TTDs that contribute to streamflow via spatially and temporally variable flow paths in a sub-humid mountain headwater catchment in Arizona, USA. Our results indicate that composite TTDs most accurately represented this system for periods up to approximately one month and that a Gamma TTD was most appropriate thereafter. The TTD results also suggested that some contribution of subsurface water was beyond the applicable tracer range. For ETTD and using δ18O as a tracer in precipitation and xylem waters, a Gamma ETTD type best matched the observations, and stable water isotopes were capable tracers for the majority of vegetation source waters. This study contributes to a better understanding of a fundamental question in mountain catchment hydrology; namely, how tracer input fluxes are modulated by spatially and temporally varying subsurface flow paths that support evapotranspiration and streamflow at multiple time scales.
Accurately quantifying the evaporation loss of surface water is essential for regional water resources management, especially in arid and semi-arid areas where water resources are already scarce. The long-term monitoring of stable isotopes (δ18O and δ2H) in water can provide a sensitive indicator of water loss by evaporation. In this study, we obtained surface water samples of Shiyang River Basin from April to October between 2017 and 2019. The spatial and temporal characteristics of stable isotopes in surface water show the trend of enrichment in summer, depletion in spring, enrichment in deserts and depletion in mountains. The Surface Water Line (SWL) has been defined by the lines: δ2H=7.61δ18O+14.58 for mountainous area, δ2H=4.19δ18O-17.85 for oasis area, δ2H=4.08δ18O-18.92 for desert area. The slope of SWL shows a gradual decrease from mountain to desert, indicating that the evaporation of surface water is gradually increasing. The evaporation loss of stable isotopes in surface water is 24.82% for mountainous area, 32.19% for oasis area, and 70.98% for desert area, respectively. Temperature and air humidity are the main meteorological factors affecting the evaporation loss, and the construction of reservoirs and farmland irrigation are the main man-made factors affecting the evaporation loss.
Field measurements were conducted to study the influence of aquatic vegetation on flow structures in floodplains with the hydrodynamic conditions dominated by combined current and wind-driven wave. Wave and turbulent flow velocity components were decomposed from the time series of instantaneous velocity and analyzed separately. With the ratio of wave excursion to stem spacing less than 0.5, the interaction between wave and vegetation was weak in present study, leading to the vertical distributions of time-averaged velocity (Uhoriz) and turbulent kinetic energy (TKE) with the presence of vegetation similar with the vegetated flow structures under pure current conditions. For emergent vegetations, Uhoriz and TKE distributed uniformly through the entire water column or increased slightly from bed to water surface. Similar distributions were present in the lower part of submerged vegetations. Within the upper part of submerged vegetations, Uhoriz and TKE increased rapidly toward water surface and TKE reached its maximum near the top of vegetation. With small Ew/S the wave orbital velocity (Uw) within vegetation was not attenuated when compared with the Uw above vegetation, and Uw through the entire water column can be predicted by the linear wave theory. However, wind-driven waves made the turbulence generated near the top of canopy penetrate a deeper depth into vegetation than predictions under pure current conditions.
Soil and nutrient loss play a vital role in eutrophication of water bodies. Several simulated rainfall experiments have been conducted to investigate the effects of a single controlling factor on soil and nutrient loss. However, the role of precipitation and vegetation coverage in quantifying soil and nutrient loss is still unclear. We monitored runoff, soil loss, and soil nutrient loss under natural rainfall conditions from 2004 to 2015 for 50-100 m2 runoff plots around Beijing. Soil erosion was significantly reduced when vegetation coverage reached 20 and 60%. At levels below 30%, nutrient loss did not differ among different vegetation cover levels. Minimum soil N and P losses were observed at cover levels above 60%. Irrespective of the management measure, soil nutrient losses were higher at high-intensity rainfall (Imax30>15 mm/h) events compared to low-intensity events (p < 0.05). We applied structural equation modelling (SEM) to systematically analyze the relative effects of rainfall characteristics and environmental factors on runoff, soil loss, and soil nutrient loss. At high-intensity rainfall events, neither vegetation cover nor antecedent soil moisture content (ASMC) affected runoff and soil loss. After log-transformation, soil nutrient loss was significantly linearly correlated with runoff and soil loss (p < 0.01). In addition, we identified the direct and indirect relationships among the influencing factors of soil nutrient loss on runoff plots and constructed a structural diagram of these relationships. The factors positively impacting soil nutrient loss were runoff (44-48%), maximum rainfall intensity over a 30-min period (18-29%), rainfall depth (20-27%), and soil loss (10-14%). Studying the effects of rainfall and vegetation coverage factors on runoff, soil loss, and nutrient loss can improve our understanding of the underlying mechanism of slope non-point source pollution.
Aggregate disintegration is a critical process in soil splash erosion. However, the effect of soil organic carbon (SOC) and its fractions on soil aggregates disintegration is still not clear. In this study, five soils with similar physical and chemical properties and different contents of SOC have been used. The effects of slaking and mechanical striking on splash erosion were distinguished by using deionized water and 95% ethanol as raindrops. The simulated rainfall experiments were carried out in four heights (0.5, 1.0, 1.5, and 2.0 m). The result indicated that the soil aggregate stability increased with the increases of SOC and light fraction organic carbon (LFOC). The relative slaking and the mechanical striking index increased with the decreases of SOC and LFOC. The reduction of macroaggregates in eroded soil gradually decreased with the increase of SOC and LFOC, especially in alcohol test. The amount of macroaggregates (>0.25mm) in deionized water tests were significantly less than that in alcohol tests under the same rainfall heights. The contribution of slaking to splash erosion increased with the decrease of heavy fractions organic carbon (HFOC). The contribution of mechanical striking was dominant when the rainfall kinetic energy increased to a range of threshold between 9 J m-2 mm-1 and 12 m-2 mm-1. This study could provide the scientific basis for deeply understanding the mechanism of soil aggregates disintegration and splash erosion.
Our understanding of the mechanisms routing precipitation inputs to evapotranspiration and streamflow in catchments is still very fragmented, particularly in the case of saturated flows. Here we explore five mechanisms by which plants and streams compete with each other for water, based on multiple scales of observations in a flat semiarid sedimentary catchment of central Argentina subject to abrupt hydrological transformations. Since the 80s, the “El Morro” catchment (1334 km2, -33.64°, -65.36°) experienced a fast expansion of crops over native forests and grasslands, rapid water table level rises (~0.3 m y-1), spontaneous expansion of wetlands and permanent streams by groundwater sapping. Based on episodic and continuous groundwater level, stream flow, and remote sensing data we show that plants not only take away water from streams by drying the unsaturated zone (mechanism 1), but by tapping the saturated zone in the expanding waterlogged environments (mechanism 2) and in the upland environments that remain uncultivated and display increasing tree cover (mechanism 3). Conversely, streams take away water from plants through pulsed bed-deepening and water table depression (mechanism 4), and riparian and wetland zones burying with fresh sediments (mechanism 5). While earlier work established widespread support for mechanisms 1 preventing stream formation, diurnal and seasonal fluctuations of water table levels and base streamflow records in this study proved the importance of mechanisms 2 and 3 under the current high-water table conditions. These data together with remotely-sensed greenness showed a growing but localized relevance of mechanism 4 and 5 as the stream network developed. The distinction of recharge- vs. topography-controlled groundwater systems is useful to organize the interplay of these concurrent mechanisms. Findings point to the unsaturated-saturated contact zone as a crucial and dynamic hub for water partition and for ecological, geomorphological, and hydrological knowledge integration.
Catchments in the Luquillo Mountains of Puerto Rico are warm, wet, and tropical with steep elevational relief creating gradients in temperature and rainfall. Long-term objectives of research at the site are to understand how changing climate and disturbance regimes alter hydrological and biogeochemical processes in the montane tropics and to provide information critical for managing and conserving tropical forest ecosystems globally. Measurements of hydrology and meteorology span decades, and currently include temperature, humidity, precipitation, cloud base, throughfall, groundwater table elevation, and stream discharge. The chemistry of rain, throughfall, and streams is measured weekly, and lysimeters and wells are sampled monthly to quarterly. Multiple data sets document the effects of major hurricanes including Hugo (1989), Georges (1998), and Maria (2017) on vegetation, biota, and catchment biogeochemistry and provide some of the longest available records of biogeochemical fluxes in tropical forests. Here we present an overview of the findings and the data sets that have been generated from the Luquillo Mountains, highlighting their importance for understanding montane tropical watersheds in the context of disturbance and global environmental change