Articles | Volume 24, issue 11
Research article
 | Highlight paper
05 Nov 2020
Research article | Highlight paper |  | 05 Nov 2020

The pulse of a montane ecosystem: coupling between daily cycles in solar flux, snowmelt, transpiration, groundwater, and streamflow at Sagehen Creek and Independence Creek, Sierra Nevada, USA

James W. Kirchner, Sarah E. Godsey, Madeline Solomon, Randall Osterhuber, Joseph R. McConnell, and Daniele Penna


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Short summary
Streams and groundwaters often show daily cycles in response to snowmelt and evapotranspiration. These typically have a roughly 6 h time lag, which is often interpreted as a travel-time lag. Here we show that it is instead primarily a phase lag that arises because aquifers integrate their inputs over time. We further show how these cycles shift seasonally, mirroring the springtime retreat of snow cover to higher elevations and the seasonal advance and retreat of photosynthetic activity.