Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2020-659
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2020-659

  21 Jan 2021

21 Jan 2021

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal HESS.

Taking theory to the field: streamflow generation mechanisms in an intermittent, Mediterranean catchment

Karina Y. Gutierrez-Jurado, Daniel Partington, and Margaret Shanafield Karina Y. Gutierrez-Jurado et al.
  • College of Science and Engineering, Flinders University, Adelaide, 5001, Australia

Abstract. Understanding streamflow dynamics at the catchment scale remains an arduous task; this is especially true for non-perennial networks. While modelling tools offer important advantages to study streamflow dynamics, the highly nonlinear, unsaturated dynamics associated with the transitions between wetting and drying in non-perennial systems make modelling cumbersome. This has stifled previous modelling attempts and alludes to why there is still a knowledge gap. In this study, we first construct a conceptual model of the physical processes of streamflow generation in an intermittent river system in South Australia, based on the hypothesis that the vertical and longitudinal soil heterogeneity and topography in a basin control short-term (fast flows), seasonal (slow flow), and a mixture of these two. We then construct and parameterise a fully integrated surface-subsurface hydrologic model to examine patterns and mechanisms of streamflow generation within the catchment. A set of scenarios are explored to understand the influences of topography and soil heterogeneity across the catchment. The results showed distinct flow generation mechanisms develop in the three conceptualized areas with marked soil and topographic characteristics, and suggested that capturing the overall distribution of soil types across the catchment was more important than capturing the wide variability of soil hydraulic properties. This study augments our understanding of catchment scale streamflow generation processes, while also providing insight on the challenges of implementing physically-based, integrated surface-subsurface hydrological models in non-perennial stream catchments.

Karina Y. Gutierrez-Jurado et al.

Status: open (until 27 Mar 2021)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on hess-2020-659', Anonymous Referee #1, 23 Feb 2021 reply

Karina Y. Gutierrez-Jurado et al.

Karina Y. Gutierrez-Jurado et al.

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Short summary
Understanding the hydrologic cycle in semi-arid landscapes includes knowing the physical processes that govern where and why rivers flow and dry within a given catchment. To gain this understanding, we put together a conceptual model of what processes we think are important, and then tested that model with numerical analysis. The results broadly confirmed our hypothesis that there are three distinct regions in our study catchment that contribute to streamflow generation in quite different ways.