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Rainfall‐runoff responses and hillslope moisture thresholds for an upland tropical catchment in Eastern Madagascar subject to long‐term slash‐and‐burn practices


Zwartendijk, B W; van Meerveld, H J; Teuling, A J; Ghimire, C P; Bruijnzeel, L Adrian (2023). Rainfall‐runoff responses and hillslope moisture thresholds for an upland tropical catchment in Eastern Madagascar subject to long‐term slash‐and‐burn practices. Hydrological Processes, 37(8):14937.

Abstract

Slash‐and‐burn agriculture is an important driver of tropical forest loss and typically results in a mosaic of land uses. However, there is little quantitative information about the hydrological effects of long‐term slash‐and‐burn agriculture and how such mosaics affect the rainfall‐runoff response at the catchment scale. We monitored streamflow responses at two points along a perennial stream in a 31.7 ha catchment in eastern Madagascar that was monitored previously between 1963 and 1972. Land cover in 2015 consisted of degraded grasslands, shrub and tree fallows at various stages of regrowth (64%), eucalypt stands for charcoal production (30%), and rice paddies and wetlands in the valley‐bottom (3%). For the majority (60%) of the events during the study period, the ratio between the total amount of stormflow and rainfall was <3%, suggesting that for these events runoff was generated in the valley‐bottom only. Events for which an antecedent soil moisture storage plus rainfall (ASI + P) threshold was exceeded had much higher stormflow ratios (up to 50%), indicating that a certain wetness was required for the hillslopes to contribute to stormflow. Stable isotope sampling for four small to moderate events indicated that stormflow was dominated by pre‐event water. Total stormflow and annual water yield in 2015 were higher than in the 1960s, despite much lower rainfall in 2015. We attribute these differences to changes in soil physical properties caused by the repeated burning and loss of top‐soil, which has resulted in a reduction in the depth to the impeding layer. The changed runoff‐processes (less infiltration, more saturation‐excess overland flow) thus affect local water resources.

Abstract

Slash‐and‐burn agriculture is an important driver of tropical forest loss and typically results in a mosaic of land uses. However, there is little quantitative information about the hydrological effects of long‐term slash‐and‐burn agriculture and how such mosaics affect the rainfall‐runoff response at the catchment scale. We monitored streamflow responses at two points along a perennial stream in a 31.7 ha catchment in eastern Madagascar that was monitored previously between 1963 and 1972. Land cover in 2015 consisted of degraded grasslands, shrub and tree fallows at various stages of regrowth (64%), eucalypt stands for charcoal production (30%), and rice paddies and wetlands in the valley‐bottom (3%). For the majority (60%) of the events during the study period, the ratio between the total amount of stormflow and rainfall was <3%, suggesting that for these events runoff was generated in the valley‐bottom only. Events for which an antecedent soil moisture storage plus rainfall (ASI + P) threshold was exceeded had much higher stormflow ratios (up to 50%), indicating that a certain wetness was required for the hillslopes to contribute to stormflow. Stable isotope sampling for four small to moderate events indicated that stormflow was dominated by pre‐event water. Total stormflow and annual water yield in 2015 were higher than in the 1960s, despite much lower rainfall in 2015. We attribute these differences to changes in soil physical properties caused by the repeated burning and loss of top‐soil, which has resulted in a reduction in the depth to the impeding layer. The changed runoff‐processes (less infiltration, more saturation‐excess overland flow) thus affect local water resources.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography
Dewey Decimal Classification:910 Geography & travel
Scopus Subject Areas:Physical Sciences > Water Science and Technology
Uncontrolled Keywords:Water Science and Technology
Language:English
Date:1 August 2023
Deposited On:04 Apr 2024 10:42
Last Modified:05 Apr 2024 20:00
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Inc.
ISSN:0885-6087
OA Status:Hybrid
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1002/hyp.14937
Project Information:
  • : FunderNederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek
  • : Grant ID
  • : Project Title
  • Content: Published Version
  • Language: English
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)