The University of Arizona

Flow processes in a rangeland catchment in California.

R. Salve, T.K. Tokunaga


Emerging hydrology-related issues in California grasslands have directed attention towards the need to understand subsurface water flow within a complex, dynamic system. Tensiometers and neutron probes evaluated the subsurface hydrology of a rangeland catchment. Hydrological processes within the catchment varied both in space and time. Spatial variability was evident along the vertical profile and between the catchment slopes. Temporal variability in processes coincided with the seasons (i.e., wet winter, dry summer, and spring). From a water-balance equation developed for the catchment, we determined that there was significant variability both spatial and temporal in the amount of soil moisture lost to evapotranspiration and deep seepage. During the 16 month monitoring period there was a total of 50 cm of rainfall that fell in the catchment of which 9-55 cm was lost to evaporation and 37-79 cm to deep seepage. A simple deduction of the losses (evaporation and deep seepage) from the input (rainfall) shows that all monitored locations had a substantial decrease in the amount of water that was stored in the soil profile.



wetting front;semiarid grassland soils;subsurface flow;soil profiles;water flow;evaporation;water balance;soil water potential;watersheds;rain;watershed hydrology;California;rangelands;soil water

Full Text: