Lateral inflows, stream-groundwater exchange, and network geometry influence stream water composition


Journal Article

The role of stream networks and their hydrologic interaction with hillslopes and shallow groundwater in modifying and transporting watershed signals is an area of active research. One of the primary ways that stream networks can modify watershed signals is through spatially variable stream gains and losses, described herein as hydrologic turnover. We measured hydrologic gain and loss at the reach scale using tracer experiments throughout the Bull Trout watershed in the Sawtooth Mountains of Idaho. We extended the results of reach scale experiments to the stream network using empirical relationships between (1) watershed area and stream discharge and (2) stream discharge and percent stream water loss to the groundwater system. We thus incorporate linkages between (1) hillslopes and stream networks via lateral inflows and (2) stream networks and shallow groundwater via hydrologic exchange. We implemented these relationships within a concise analytical framework to simulate hydrologic turnover across stream networks and estimate the variable influence exerted by upstream reaches and streamflow source locations on stream water composition across stream networks. Application to six natural Sawtooth watersheds and seven synthetic watersheds with varying topographic structure and stream network geometry indicated that contributions to discharge from any upstream source depend on the magnitude of the initial input, but also on the distribution of hydrologic turnover occurring along the stream network. The evolution of stream water source compositions along stream networks was unique in each watershed due to the combination of watershed structure and stream network geometry. Our results suggest that a distributed representation of hydrologic turnover at the stream network scale can improve understanding of how the stream network can modify source water compositions along the stream. © 2014. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Mallard, J; McGlynn, B; Covino, T

Published Date

  • January 1, 2014

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 50 / 6

Start / End Page

  • 4603 - 4623

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1944-7973

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0043-1397

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1002/2013WR014944

Citation Source

  • Scopus