EFFECTS OF WATERSHED TOPOGRAPHY, SOILS, LAND USE, AND CLIMATE ON BASEFLOW HYDROLOGY IN HUMID REGIONS: A REVIEW

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1 PROGRESS IN PHYSICAL GEOGRAPHY EFFECTS OF WATERSHED TOPOGRAPHY, SOILS, LAND USE, AND CLIMATE ON BASEFLOW HYDROLOGY IN HUMID REGIONS: A REVIEW KATIE PRICE 2011 Presented by: Jordan Martin

2 Article Overview I. Introduction Baseflow, Identification, Quantification II. III. IV. Geomorphic Controls I. Geology II. III. IV. Surface Topography Subsurface topography and Soils Combined Influences Effects of Human Land Use I. Forest Removal II. III. Urbanization Agriculture Effects of Climate Change V. Summary and Conclusion

3 Introduction A Cohesive Summary Baseflow: the portion of streamflow that is sustained between precipitation events, fed to stream channels by delayed (usually subsurface) pathways Reason for this Study Timing, quantity, and quality of baseflow all can be impacted by many factors Previous research mostly emphasizes flood response to human pressures (not base flow) Conditions associated with baseflow merit special attention

4 Introduction Baseflow Overview Baseflow = Low flow? = Groundwater flow? Baseflow: deep subsurface and delayed shallow subsurface storage between precipitation and/or snowmelt events Groundwater flow is only one component of baseflow Low flow: dry season minimum flows

5 Introduction Methods of Identifying Sources and Residence Times 1. Stable and Radioactive Environmental Isotopes Stable: Hydrogen and Oxygen isotopes (water age) Radioactive: Radon 2. Tracing Injected or Naturally Occurring Solutes Injected: Cl or Br gas, highly saline water, etc. Natural: ones that are known to originate in certain areas of the watershed 3. End-Member Mixing Analysis (EMMA) Uses ratios of multiple solutes characteristic of known mineralogical and geological differences

6 Introduction Methods of Quantifying Baseflow and Low Flow Four Major Metric Categories Event-based low flow statistics Applied to water quality and aquatic habitat management Environmental flow, waste-load allocations, point source discharge permits, withdraw allowances 7Q10, 7Q2, average annual minimum flow Flow-duration curve statistics Identification of exceedance probabilities Common interest in values such as QQ 99, QQ 95, or QQ 75

7 Introduction Methods of Quantifying Baseflow and Low Flow Four Major Metric Categories Metrics that express the proportion of baseflow to total flow Baseflow Index (BFI): the proportion of baseflow to total streamflow over a continuous period of record Seven noted methods to separate event and pre-event water (i.e. environmental isotope tracing) Baseflow recession statistics Various computer programs / software developed Used for the regionalization of low flow distribution functions [and] to evaluate the relative impacts of climate change and land-use change Emphasizes the need to establish a consistent set of baseflow metrics

8 Geomorphic Controls - Geology Influential Characteristics Bedrock type Bedrock structure Erodability, Porosity, and Extent of Fracturing Factors Influenced by Geology Groundwater disconnected storage volumes Surface water connectivity Level of low flow Channel formation and pedogenesis

9 Geomorphic Controls Surface Topography Topography Factors Influencing Baseflow Slopes influence where Distribution of subsurface storage, stream network Slopes influence when Stormwater delivery to stream, soil water retention Slopes influence how much Subsurface storage volume, runoff volume May mitigate or amplify other effects i.e. land use and climate change

10 Geomorphic Controls Surface Topography Topography Factors Influencing Baseflow Topography Index (TI) = ln(a/tan b) a = specific contributing area to a given site b = local slope angle at that site Used along with transmissivity to estimate depth to shallow water tables (accuracy is questioned) Catchment geometry shown to correlate with potential discharge (related to baseflow?) Particularly in steep forested catchments Flow path distribution is largely a function of catchment geometry Length of stream network per unit watershed area may reduce baseflow levels

11 Geomorphic Controls Subsurface Topography & Soils What Subsurface Topography are we referring to: pedogenically unaltered parent material Flow paths created by tree roots, burrowing animals, and other bioturbation Impact of Confining Subsurface Layers Prevent continued infiltration Directs shallow subsurface flow (usually laterally) Creates storage locations Amplified control on flow in low moisture conditions

12 Geomorphic Controls Combined Influences Topography and Soil Interplay Topography influences spatial variability of soil moisture Topography can impact soil quantity, texture, compaction, and thus water movement In summary, geomorphic controls often cannot be isolated from each other in terms of their baseflow impact

13 Human Land Use - Summary Table

14 Human Land Use Forest Removal Initially, there seemed to be a negative relationship between watershed forest cover and baseflow volume However, studies show a significant positive relationship between forest cover and baseflow discharge. Explanation? More permanent land use change from forest to non-forest cover causes soil compaction, reduction in soil organic matter, increase in impervious surface, decreased recharge of basin subsurface storage

15 Human Land Use Urbanization Impacts of Urbanization on Baseflow Simply the reorganization of surface and subsurface pathways Importation of water from previously disconnected watersheds Infrastructure increased impervious cover, soil compaction, subsurface drainage networks Would urbanization, therefore, increase or decrease baseflow??

16 Human Land Use Urbanization Decrease in evapotranspiration The complete picture of hydrologic response to urbanization is extremely complex, with some factors acting to reduce recharge and others to increase recharge.

17 Human Land Use Urbanization it unfortunately appears that baseflow response to urbanization cannot be predicted by a highly simplified set of parameters Decrease Increase Inconsistent No Response IIIII IIIII II IIII III

18 Human Land Use - Agriculture Similar to urbanization, baseflow response to agriculture can vary depending on various confounding factors: Management Irrigation method Irrigation water source Tilling practices Drainage systems Crop type Growing season frequency Change from perennial to seasonal cultivation Watersheds that have been under agricultural land use for extended periods show baseflow increases in response to improved cropping and tillage practices

19 Climate Change Temperature Rise Local Scale Impact Increase in Evaporation Increase in Precipitation Baseflow reduction is offset Regional/Global Scale Impact Dependent on the changes in circulation patterns Hard to isolate ET and P alteration impacts (mainly on timing) from projected land-use changes (mainly on magnitude) Highly variable impact based on region

20 Climate Change Temperature Rise What can we [almost] be sure of? Increased seasonality of hydrologic regimes Dryer dry seasons and wetter wet seasons More extreme low flows, especially lowered baseflows in late summer Colder regions will likely experience more precipitation High latitude and high altitude regions will likely experience higher baseflows permafrost, infiltration, etc. Land-use and climate change effects will likely combine to increase overland flow and reduce recharge

21 7 Key Needs for Future Research 1. Experimental studies specifically designed to evaluate the influence of subsurface topography on baseflow 2. Improvement of methods to determine distribution of shallow subsurface storage at scales relevant to policy and management 3. Comprehensive empirical comparisons that link soil hydrology and baseflows under land-use gradients that incorporate more detail than the broad categories of forest, agriculture, and urban land use 4. Study multiple aspects of watershed hydrology in a single study to better understand the watershed as a complete, interactive system suggests modeling and empirical studies

22 7 Key Needs for Future Research 5. Modeling and empirical studies that explore baseflow response to varied landuse change, planned growth, and mitigation strategies 6. Understanding analytical methods and strategies - do research conclusions differ with the specific baseflow metric analyzed? Are there optimal baseflow separation methods, recession statistics, and low flow statistics? 7. Ensemble modeling studies that explore multiple working hypotheses of atmospheric feedbacks that will accompany warming, and various interactions between land-use and climate change, in order to ensure mitigation plans are in place for any scenario that is likely to occur

23 Summary and Conclusion Understanding how land-use and climate change will affect baseflow quantity, in the context of watershed geomorphology, will aid watershed managers and stream ecologists in the protection of adequate water supply for human needs and habitat availability for stream biota.

24 Discussion Questions Focusing on baseflow - Do you agree with the author s belief that studying impacts on baseflow is particularly important? Justification? Biota neglected What role do you think various organisms could play in affecting baseflow? Future Land-use what trends do you predict we will see in land-use and how do you think that may impact baseflow?

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