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Discussion papers | Copyright
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2017-735
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 02 Jan 2018

Research article | 02 Jan 2018

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. A revision of this manuscript was accepted for the journal Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (HESS) and is expected to appear here in due course.

Riparian evapotranspiration shapes stream flow dynamics and water budgets in a Mediterranean catchment

Anna Lupon1, José L. J. Ledesma2, and Susana Bernal3,4 Anna Lupon et al.
  • 1Department of Forest Ecology and Management, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), Skogsmarksgränd, 901 83 Umeå, Sweden
  • 2Department of Aquatic Sciences and Assessment, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), Lennart Hjelms väg 9, SE, 750 07 Uppsala, Sweden
  • 3Departament de Biologia Evolutiva, Ecologia i Ciències Ambientals, Universitat de Barcelona, Av. Diagonal 643, 08028 Barcelona, Spain
  • 4Integrative Freshwater Ecology Group, Center for Advanced Studies of Blanes (CEAB-CSIC), Accés a la Cala Sant Francesc 14, 17300 Blanes, Spain

Abstract. Riparian trees can regulate stream flow dynamics and water budgets by taking up large amounts of water from both soil and groundwater compartments. However, their role has not been fully recognized in the hydrologic literature and the catchment modeling community. In this study, we explored the influence of riparian evapotranspiration (ET) on stream flow by simulating daily stream exports from three nested Mediterranean sub-catchments, both including and excluding the riparian compartment in the structure of the PERSiST rainfall-runoff model. The model goodness of fit significantly improved with the inclusion of the riparian compartment, especially during the vegetative period when, according to our simulations, riparian ET reduced mean daily stream flow by 26%. Moreover, sensitivity analyses suggested that riparian ET was a significant hydrological process contributing to stream flow recession in summer. At the catchment scale, simulated riparian ET accounted for 7% of annual water depletions, its contribution being especially noticeable during summer (8–19%). Simulations considering future climate change scenarios suggest that longer vegetative periods would result in higher contribution of riparian ET to annual water budgets. Annual increases in riparian ET ranged between 2 and 13% from the most conservative to the most extreme drought scenarios. Overall, our results highlight that a good assessment of riparian ET is essential for understanding catchment hydrology and stream flow dynamics in Mediterranean regions. Thus, the inclusion of the riparian compartment in hydrological models is strongly recommended in order to establish proper management strategies in water-limited regions.

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We used the PERSiST model to explore the role of riparian evapotranspiration (ET) on regulating stream flow dynamics in Mediterranean regions. Riparian ET was essential for understanding stream flow dynamics, especially in summer. Moreover, climate change simulations showed that the contribution of riparian ET to annual water depletions will increase in the future. We must include riparian zones in hydrological models in order to establish proper management strategies in water-limited regions.
We used the PERSiST model to explore the role of riparian evapotranspiration (ET) on regulating...
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