Journal cover Journal topic
Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
© Author(s) 2016. This work is distributed
under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
10 May 2016
Review status
A revision of this discussion paper was accepted for the journal Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (HESS) and is expected to appear here in due course.
In situ investigation of rapid subsurface flow: Temporal dynamics and catchment-scale implication
Lisa Angermann1, Conrad Jackisch2, Niklas Allroggen3, Matthias Sprenger4,5, Erwin Zehe2, Jens Tronicke3, Markus Weiler4, and Theresa Blume1 1Helmholtz Centre Potsdam, GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, Section Hydrology, Potsdam, Germany
2Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Institute for Water and River Basin Management, Chair of Hydrology, Karlsruhe, Germany
3University of Potsdam, Institute of Earth and Environmental Science, Potsdam, Germany
4University of Freiburg, Institute of Geo- and Environmental Natural Sciences, Chair of Hydrology, Freiburg,
5University of Aberdeen, School of Geosciences, Geography & Environment, Aberdeen, Scotland, UK
Abstract. Preferential flow is omnipresent in natural systems. It links multiple scales from single pores to entire hillslopes and potentially influences the discharge dynamics of a catchment. However, there is still a lack of appropriate monitoring techniques and thus, process understanding. In this study, a promising combination of 2D time-lapse ground-penetrating radar (GPR) and soil moisture monitoring was used to observe preferential flow processes in highly structured soils during a hillslope-scale irrigation experiment. The 2D time-lapse GPR data were interpreted using structural similarity attributes, highlighting changes between individual time-lapse measurements. These changes are related to soil moisture variations in the subsurface. In combination with direct measurements of soil moisture, the spatial and temporal characteristics of the resulting patterns can give evidence about subsurface flow processes. The response dynamics at the hillslope were compared to the runoff response behavior of the headwater catchment. The experiment revealed a fast establishment of hillslope-scale connectivity despite unsaturated conditions, with high response velocities of up to 10−3 m s−1 or faster, and a high portion of mobile water. These processes substantially impact the overall catchment response behavior. While the presented approach is a good way to observe the temporal dynamics and general patterns, the spatial characteristics of small-scale preferential flow path could not be fully resolved.

Citation: Angermann, L., Jackisch, C., Allroggen, N., Sprenger, M., Zehe, E., Tronicke, J., Weiler, M., and Blume, T.: In situ investigation of rapid subsurface flow: Temporal dynamics and catchment-scale implication, Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci. Discuss., doi:10.5194/hess-2016-189, in review, 2016.
Lisa Angermann et al.
Lisa Angermann et al.
Lisa Angermann et al.


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Short summary
This study investigates the temporal dynamics and response velocities of lateral preferential flow at the hillslope. The results are compared to catchment response behavior to infer the large scale implications of the observed processes. A large portion of mobile water flows through preferential flow paths in the structured soils, causing an immediate discharge response. The study presents a methodological approach to cover the spatial and temporal domain of these highly heterogeneous processes.
This study investigates the temporal dynamics and response velocities of lateral preferential...