Articles | Volume 1, issue 3
30 Sep 1997
30 Sep 1997

Scale dependence of the episodic hydrochemical response of nested catchments at Plynlimon

H. J. Foster, S. Alexander, T. Locks, H. S. Wheater, M. J. Lees, and B. Reynolds

Abstract. Previous monitoring of the surface water chemistry of the forested catchments at Plynlimon has concentrated on weekly measurements. Hence, peak values and details of the rapid changes in chemistry occurring during events tend to be missed, particularly for smaller catchments. Knowledge of the detailed hydrochemical response is necessary to predict effects on stream ecology and to quantify processes occurring within the catchment. This information is vital if the likely impacts of changes in landuse and pollutant input on episodic hydrochemical variations are to be modelled.
A summary of daily and three-hourly chemistry for the River Severn headwaters at Plynlimon, central Wales is presented. Data are from the summer and autumn of 1995 and the winter and summer of 1996. The effects of antecedent conditions, soiltype, landuse and groundwater and tributary inflow on stream episodic hydrochemical response are discussed for a range of spatial scales, including first, second and third order streams. Detailed information on the chemical changes due to a discrete groundwater inflow into the bed of one stream shows that, during episodes, its influence on stream chemistry is overridden by that of event water. A comparison of drainage ditch chemistry with main stream chemistry during storm events is used to consider the importance of tributary inflow at these times. The contrast in results between sites is assessed, to evaluate the effects of clearfelling and soil type on stream event chemistry.