Watershed structural influences on the distributions of stream network water and solute travel times under baseflow conditions
© 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Watershed structure influences the timing, magnitude, and spatial location of water and solute entry to stream networks. In turn, stream reach transport velocities and stream network geometry (travel distances) further influence the timing of export from watersheds. Here, we examine how watershed and stream network organization can affect travel times of water from delivery to the stream network to arrival at the watershed outlet. We analysed watershed structure and network geometry and quantified the relationship between stream discharge and solute velocity across six study watersheds (11.4 to 62.8 km2) located in the Sawtooth Mountains of central Idaho, USA. Based on these analyses, we developed stream network travel time functions for each watershed. We found that watershed structure, stream network geometry, and the variable magnitude of inputs across the network can have a pronounced affect on water travel distances and velocities within a stream network. Accordingly, a sample taken at the watershed outlet is composed of water and solutes sourced from across the watershed that experienced a range of travel times in the stream network. We suggest that understanding and quantifying stream network travel time distributions are valuable for deconvolving signals observed at watershed outlets into their spatial and temporal sources, and separating terrestrial and in-channel hydrological, biogeochemical, and ecological influences on in-stream observations. Copyright © 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Bergstrom, A; McGlynn, B; Mallard, J; Covino, T
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