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Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2019-203
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2019-203
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 17 May 2019

Research article | 17 May 2019

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

Intra-catchment variability of surface saturation – insights from longterm observations and simulations

Barbara Glaser1,2, Marta Antonelli3,1, Luisa Hopp2, and Julian Klaus1 Barbara Glaser et al.
  • 1Catchment and Eco-Hydrology Research Group, Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology, Esch/Alzette, 4362, Luxembourg
  • 2Department of Hydrology, University of Bayreuth, Bayreuth, 95447, Germany
  • 3Hydrology and Quantitative Water Management Group, Wageningen University & Research, Wageningen, 6700, the Netherlands

Abstract. The inundation of flood-prone areas varies in space and time and can have crucial impacts on runoff generation and water quality when the surface saturated areas become connected to the stream. In this study, we aimed to investigate and explain the variability of surface saturation patterns and dynamics within a forested headwater catchment. On the one hand, we mapped surface saturation in seven distinct riparian areas of the Weierbach catchment (Luxembourg) with thermal infrared images, taken weekly to bi-weekly over a period of two years. On the other hand, we simulated the surface saturation generation in the catchment with the integrated surface subsurface hydrologic model HydroGeoSphere over the same period. Both the observations and simulations showed that the saturation dynamics were similar across the catchment, but that small differences between the dynamics at different areas occurred. Moreover, the model reproduced the observed saturation patterns well for all seasonal and hydrologic conditions and at all investigated locations. Based on the observations and simulation results and the matches and mismatches between them, we concluded that the generation of surface saturation in the Weierbach catchment was largely controlled by exfiltration of groundwater into local depressions. However, we also illustrate that the entire variability of the patterns, dynamics and frequencies of surface saturation within the different riparian areas of the catchment can only result from additional controlling factors to microtopography and groundwater exfiltration, such as differing hysteretic behaviour, differing subsurface structures, or additional water sources.

Barbara Glaser et al.
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Short summary
The inundation of flood-prone areas can have crucial impacts on runoff generation and water quality. We investigate the variation of flooding in space and time along a small stream with long-term observations and numerical simulations. We demonstrate that the main reason for the flooding is the exfiltration of groundwater into local topographic depressions. However, only interplay with further influencing factors can explain the entire variability of the observed flooding patterns and dynamics.
The inundation of flood-prone areas can have crucial impacts on runoff generation and water...
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