The impact of hillslope groundwater dynamics and landscape functioning in event-flow generation: a field study in the Rietholzbach catchment, Switzerland
- Journal Article
Rights / licenseIn Copyright - Non-Commercial Use Permitted
A reliable prediction of hydrograph responses in mountainous headwater catchments requires a mechanistic understanding of the coupled hydro-climatic processes in these regions. This study shows that only a small fraction of the total area in a pre-Alpine headwater catchment actively regulates streamflow responses to hydro-climatic forcing, which facilitates the application of a parsimonious framework for hydrograph time-series prediction. Based on landscape analysis and hydrometric data from the Upper Rietholzbach catchment (URHB, 0.94 km2, northeast Switzerland), a conceptual model was established. Here, the rainfall-event-driven contribution of surface runoff and subsurface flow (event flow) accounts for around 50 % of total river discharge. The event-flow hydrograph is generated from approximately 25 % of the entire area consisting of riparian zones (8 %) and adjacent hillslopes (17 %), each with characteristic streamflow-generating mechanisms. Baseflow generation is attributed to deep groundwater discharge from a fractured-rock aquifer covering ∼75 % of the catchment area. A minimalistic model, that represents event flow as depletion of two parallel linear reservoirs, verified the conceptual model of the URHB with adequate hydrograph simulations (R 2 = 0.67, Nash-Sutcliffe efficiency (NSE) = 0.64). Hereby, the expansion of the event-flow contributing areas was found to be particularly significant during long and high-intensity rainfall events. These findings provide a generalized approach for the large-scale characterization of groundwater recharge and hydrological behavior of mountainous catchments with similar landscape properties. Show more
Journal / seriesHydrogeology Journal
Pages / Article No.
SubjectGroundwater recharge/water budget; Minimalistic model; Mountainous catchments; Switzerland, Rainfall/runoff
NotesIt was possible to publish this article open access thanks to a Swiss National Licence with the publisher.
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