01 Feb 2022
01 Feb 2022
Status: a revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal HESS.

Extreme precipitation events induce high fluxes of groundwater and associated nutrients to the coastal ocean

Marc Diego-Feliu1, Valentí Rodellas1, Aaron Alorda-Kleinglass1, Maarten Saaltink2,3, Albert Folch2,3, and Jordi Garcia-Orellana1,4 Marc Diego-Feliu et al.
  • 1Institut de Ciència i Tecnologia Ambientals, UAB, Bellaterra, E-08193, Spain
  • 2Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, UPC, Barcelona, E-08034, Spain
  • 3Hydrogeology Group, UPC-CSIC, Barcelona, E-08034, Spain
  • 4Departament de Física, Bellaterra, E-08193, Spain

Abstract. Current Submarine Groundwater Discharge (SGD) studies are commonly conducted under aquifer baseflow conditions, neglecting the influence of episodic events that can significantly increase the supply of nutrients and water. This limits our understanding of the social, biogeochemical, and ecological impacts of SGD. In this study, we evaluated the influence of an extreme precipitation event (EPE) on the magnitude of both the terrestrial and marine components of SGD. To do so, three seawater sampling campaigns were performed at a Mediterranean ephemeral stream-dominated basin after an extreme precipitation event (~90 mm in few hours) and in baseflow conditions. Results indicate that the groundwater flows of terrestrial and marine SGD after the extreme precipitation event were 1 order of magnitude higher than those in baseflow conditions. SGD induced by extreme precipitation events, which only take place a few days per year, represented up to one third of the annual discharge of groundwater and associated nutrients at the study site. This work accentuates the need to account for episodic increases in the supply of water and nutrients when aiming at providing reliable annual SGD estimates, particularly in the current context of climate change, since the occurrence of such events is expected to increase worldwide.

Marc Diego-Feliu et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on hess-2021-594', Anonymous Referee #1, 01 Mar 2022
    • AC1: 'ACs - Reply on RC1', Marc Diego-Feliu, 26 May 2022
    • AC3: 'References - Reply on RC1', Marc Diego-Feliu, 26 May 2022
  • RC2: 'Reply on RC1', Anonymous Referee #2, 07 Mar 2022
    • AC2: 'ACs - Reply on RC2', Marc Diego-Feliu, 26 May 2022

Marc Diego-Feliu et al.

Marc Diego-Feliu et al.


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Short summary
Rainwater intrudes into aquifers and travels a long subsurface journey towards the ocean where it eventually enters below sea level. In its path to the sea, water gets enriched in many compounds that are naturally or artificially present within soils and sediments. We demonstrate that extreme rainfall events may significantly increase the inflow of water to the ocean, increasing therefore the supply of these compounds that are fundamental for the sustainment of coastal ecosystems.