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Discussion papers | Copyright
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 29 Aug 2018

Research article | 29 Aug 2018

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (HESS).

Hydrological trade-offs due to different land covers and land uses in the Brazilian Cerrado

Jamil A. A. Anache1, Edson Wendland1, Lívia M. P. Rosalem1, Cristian Youlton1, and Paulo T. S. Oliveira2 Jamil A. A. Anache et al.
  • 1Department of Hydraulics and Sanitation, São Carlos School of Engineering (EESC), University of São Paulo (USP), CxP. 359, São Carlos, SP, 13566-590, Brazil
  • 2Federal University of Mato Grosso do Sul, CxP. 549, Campo Grande, MS, 79070-900, Brazil

Abstract. Farmland expansion in the Brazilian Cerrado, considered one of the largest agricultural frontiers in the world, has the potential to alter water fluxes on different spatial scales. Despite some large-scale studies being developed, there are still few investigations in experimental sites in this region. Here, we investigate the water balance components in experimental plots and the groundwater table fluctuation in different land covers: wooded Cerrado, sugarcane, pasture and bare soil. Furthermore, we identify possible water balance trade-offs due to the different land covers. This study was developed between 2012 and 2016 in the central region of the state of São Paulo, Southern Brazil. Hydrometeorological variables, groundwater table, surface runoff and other water balance components were monitored inside experimental plots containing different land covers; the datasets were analyzed using statistical parameters; and the water balance components uncertainties were computed. Replacing wooded Cerrado by pastureland and sugarcane shifts the overland flow (up to 42mmyr−1), and soil water storage (up to 504mmyr−1). This fact suggests significant changes in the water partitioning in a transient land cover and land use (LCLU) system, as the evapotranspiration is lower (up to 719mmyr−1) in agricultural land covers than in the undisturbed Cerrado. We recommend long-term observations to continue the evaluations initiated in this study, mainly because tropical environments have few basic studies at the hillslope scale and more assessments are needed for a better understanding of the real field conditions. Such efforts should be made to reduce uncertainties, validate the water balance hypothesis and catch the variability of hydrological processes.

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Short summary
We assessed the water balance through 5 years in different land uses typical from the Brazilian Cerrado: tropical woodland, bare land, pasture land, and sugarcane. The land use dynamics may affect hillslope hydrology and cause trade-offs: sugarcane plantation presented a higher potential to maintain the evapotranspiration rates closer to the natural conditions than the pasture; and the aquifer recharge rates may be reduced in forested areas due to the increased water demand by the vegetation.
We assessed the water balance through 5 years in different land uses typical from the Brazilian...