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Long‐term changes in runoff generation mechanisms for two proglacial areas in the Swiss Alps II: subsurface flow


Maier, Fabian; van Meerveld, H J; Weiler, Markus (2021). Long‐term changes in runoff generation mechanisms for two proglacial areas in the Swiss Alps II: subsurface flow. Water Resources Research, 57(12):e2021WR030223.

Abstract

Lateral subsurface stormflow (SSF) is the most important runoff generation mechanism for most hillslopes in temperate climates. It is influenced by pedological, biological, and topographic factors that change during landscape evolution, but so far little is known about how SSF changes over long-time scales. Therefore, we conducted sprinkling experiments on a silicate and carbonate moraine chronosequence in the Swiss Alps. Each chronosequence consisted of four moraines ranging between a couple of decades and ∼13,500 years in age. On each moraine, we installed three plots and measured shallow SSF in a trench. We added tracers (δ2H and NaCl) to the sprinkling water to identify mixing and flow pathways in the subsurface. The coarse and drainable sediments on the young moraines provoked more frequent and larger SSF responses than for the old moraines. There was no SSF during the sprinkling experiments on the older moraines at the calcareous study area, but SSF occurred during larger natural rainfall events. The pre-event water fractions in SSF were higher for the old moraines than the young moraines due to the increase in silt, clay, and soil organic matter content, and subsequent increase in the amount of water stored in the soil. The results of this study suggest that soil and vegetation development affect SSF characteristics and help—together with the results for overland flow (companion paper; Maier & van Meerveld, 2021, https://doi.org/10.1029/2021WR030221)—to improve hydrological models and our understanding of the changes in near-surface runoff generation processes during the first millennia of landscape evolution in Alpine areas.

Abstract

Lateral subsurface stormflow (SSF) is the most important runoff generation mechanism for most hillslopes in temperate climates. It is influenced by pedological, biological, and topographic factors that change during landscape evolution, but so far little is known about how SSF changes over long-time scales. Therefore, we conducted sprinkling experiments on a silicate and carbonate moraine chronosequence in the Swiss Alps. Each chronosequence consisted of four moraines ranging between a couple of decades and ∼13,500 years in age. On each moraine, we installed three plots and measured shallow SSF in a trench. We added tracers (δ2H and NaCl) to the sprinkling water to identify mixing and flow pathways in the subsurface. The coarse and drainable sediments on the young moraines provoked more frequent and larger SSF responses than for the old moraines. There was no SSF during the sprinkling experiments on the older moraines at the calcareous study area, but SSF occurred during larger natural rainfall events. The pre-event water fractions in SSF were higher for the old moraines than the young moraines due to the increase in silt, clay, and soil organic matter content, and subsequent increase in the amount of water stored in the soil. The results of this study suggest that soil and vegetation development affect SSF characteristics and help—together with the results for overland flow (companion paper; Maier & van Meerveld, 2021, https://doi.org/10.1029/2021WR030221)—to improve hydrological models and our understanding of the changes in near-surface runoff generation processes during the first millennia of landscape evolution in Alpine areas.

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Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography
Dewey Decimal Classification:910 Geography & travel
Uncontrolled Keywords:Water Science and Technology
Language:English
Date:1 December 2021
Deposited On:16 Dec 2021 12:33
Last Modified:26 Apr 2024 01:37
Publisher:American Geophysical Union
ISSN:0043-1397
OA Status:Hybrid
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1029/2021wr030223
  • Content: Published Version
  • Language: English
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)