Evaluating the Timing and Interdependence of Hydrologic Processes at the Watershed Scale Based on Continuously Monitored Data

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Arenas, Antonio
Schilling, Keith
Niemeier, James
Weber, Larry
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College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences is one of the world's leading institutions of agriculture. Building on 150 years of excellence the college provides leadership in science, education and research, areas vital to the future of Iowa, the nation and the world.

The roots of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences go back to 1858 when Iowa established the State Agricultural College and Model Farm. It officially opened in 1869 as the first coed land-grant in the nation. That was among many college “firsts,” including the first courses in forestry, dairying and bacteriology in the nation. (Learn More)

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  • Department of Agriculture (1858–1959)
  • College of Agriculture (1959–2007)

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Iowa Nutrient Research Center
The Iowa Nutrient Research Center was established to pursue science-based approaches to evaluating the performance of current and emerging nutrient management practices and providing recommendations on practice implementation and development. Publications in this digital repository are products of INRC-funded research. The INRC is headquartered at Iowa State University and operates in collaboration with the University of Iowa and the University of Northern Iowa. Additional project information is available at: https://www.cals.iastate.edu/inrc/
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A quantitative understanding of the interplay between the different components of the hydrologic cycle at the watershed scale can be gained from analyzing high-frequency hydrologic time series. High-frequency measurements of precipitation, soil water content, shallow groundwater, and streamflow were collected and analyzed in Otter Creek, a 122 km2 watershed located in Northeast Iowa, USA. For selected rainfall events occurring in 2014, it was found that there is at least 4 h of delay between soil water content and water table time series response and streamflow peak. This is true even when the water table was approximately 6.5 m below the ground surface before rainfall started. Data reveal a strong linear dependence between the soil water content and the water table, which suggests the existence of a capillary fringe that extends approximately 2.5 m above the water table. The highest streamflow values in Otter Creek occurred when both the water table was close to the ground surface and the near surface soil (top 65 cm) was close to full saturation. Analyses show that, in the study area, data on depth to water table or deep soil water content have the potential to play a key role in the development of a flood warning system. The transformation of rainfall into streamflow is a complex process that we simplified in this study. Additional analyses using physically based coupled surface-subsurface models or non-linear or stochastic models are recommended for more rigorous analysis.


The following article is published as Arenas, Antonio, Keith Schilling, James Niemeier, and Larry Weber. "Evaluating the timing and interdependence of hydrologic processes at the watershed scale based on continuously monitored data." Water 10, no. 3 (2018): 261. Posted with permission of INRC.

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited

Mon Jan 01 00:00:00 UTC 2018