The role of event water, a rapid shallow flow component, and catchment size in summer stormflow

  • Brown V
  • McDonnell J
  • Burns D
 et al. 
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Seven nested headwater catchments (8 to 161 ha) were monitored during five summer rain events to evaluate storm runoff components and the effect of catchment size on water sources. Two-component isotopic hydrograph separation showed that event-water contributions near the time of peakflow ranged from 49% to 62% in the 7 catchments during the highest intensity event. The proportion of event water in stormflow was greater than could be accounted for by direct precipitation onto saturated areas. DOC concentrations in stormflow were strongly correlated with stream18O composition. Bivariate mixing diagrams indicated that the large event water contributions were likely derived from flow through the soil O-horizon. Results from two-tracer, three-component hydrograph separations showed that the throughfall and O-horizon soil-water components together could account for the estimated contributions of event water to stormflow. End-member mixing analysis confirmed these results. Estimated event-water contributions were inversely related to catchment size, but the relation was significant for only the event with greatest rainfall intensity. Our results suggest that perched, shallow subsurface flow provides a substantial contribution to summer stormflow in these small catchments, but the relative contribution of this component decreases with catchment size.

Author-supplied keywords

  • End-member mixing analysis
  • Stormflow
  • Two-component isotopic separation
  • Two-tracer three-component hydrograph

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