Next Article in Journal
Hydrological Process Simulation of Inland River Watershed: A Case Study of the Heihe River Basin with Multiple Hydrological Models
Previous Article in Journal
A Comparative Assessment of Variable Selection Methods in Urban Water Demand Forecasting
Article Menu
Issue 4 (April) cover image

Export Article

Open AccessArticle
Water 2018, 10(4), 420; https://doi.org/10.3390/w10040420

Assessing Near Surface Hydrologic Processes and Plant Response over a 1600 m Mountain Valley Gradient in the Great Basin, NV, U.S.A.

1
School of Life Sciences, University of Nevada Las Vegas, Las Vegas, NV 89154, USA
2
Desert Research Institute, Reno, NV 89512, USA
3
Desert Research Institute, Las Vegas, NV 89119, USA
4
Department of Geography, University of Nevada Reno, NV 89557, USA
5
Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Science, University of Nevada Reno, NV 89557, USA
6
The Nature Conservancy, Reno, NV 89501, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 16 February 2018 / Revised: 26 March 2018 / Accepted: 28 March 2018 / Published: 3 April 2018
Full-Text   |   PDF [13579 KB, uploaded 3 May 2018]   |  

Abstract

This study investigated near surface hydrologic processes and plant response over a 1600 m mountain-valley gradient located in the Great Basin of North America (Nevada, U.S.A.) as part of a long-term climate assessment study. The goal was to assess shifts in precipitation, soil water status and associated drainage with elevation and how this influenced evapotranspiration and plant cover/health estimated by a satellite-derived Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI), all to better understand how water is partitioned in a mountain valley system. Data were acquired during a three-year period from meteorological stations located in five plant communities ranging in elevation from 1756 m (salt desert shrubland zone) to 3355 m (subalpine zone). The analysis also included groundwater depths measured at the Salt Desert Shrub West site, mine water flow near the Pinyon-Juniper West site and drainage estimates using drainage flux meters at the four higher elevation sites. Annual precipitation increased with elevation in a linear fashion (R2 = 0.93, p < 0.001) with an average increase of 2.9 cm for every 100 m in elevation. Reference evapotranspiration (ETref) declined in a highly linear fashion with elevation (R2 = 0.95, p < 0.001) with an average 4.0 cm decline for every 100 m rise in elevation. Drainage occurred only at the Montane West and Subalpine West sites and not at the lower elevations. No drainage occurred after Julian day 160. Growing degree days were found to be negatively associated with the time of peak drainage (R2 = 0.97, p < 0.001), the date drainage first occurred (R2 = 0.90, p < 0.001), drainage duration (R2 = 0.79, p < 0.001) and total drainage volume (R2 = 0.59, p < 0.001). It was estimated that 27% of precipitation at the Montane West site (years 1, 2 and 3) and 66 % at the Subalpine West site (40% without year 1) contributed to drainage at the local site level, indicating possible strong recharge contribution from the higher elevation plant communities. Percent vegetation cover and ETref accounted for 94% of the variation in NDVI and 90% of the variation in ET totals when data from all sites were combined. Such data will be extremely valuable to collect and compare over time to assess shifts associated with potential climate warming and/or basin water diversion. View Full-Text
Keywords: drainage; groundwater; NDVI drainage; groundwater; NDVI
Figures

Figure 1

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 (CC BY 4.0).
SciFeed

Share & Cite This Article

MDPI and ACS Style

Devitt, D.; Bird, B.; Lyles, B.; Fenstermaker, L.; Jasoni, R.; Strachan, S.; Arnone lll, J.; Biondi, F.; Mensing, S.; Saito, L. Assessing Near Surface Hydrologic Processes and Plant Response over a 1600 m Mountain Valley Gradient in the Great Basin, NV, U.S.A.. Water 2018, 10, 420.

Show more citation formats Show less citations formats

Note that from the first issue of 2016, MDPI journals use article numbers instead of page numbers. See further details here.

Related Articles

Article Metrics

Article Access Statistics

1

Comments

[Return to top]
Water EISSN 2073-4441 Published by MDPI AG, Basel, Switzerland RSS E-Mail Table of Contents Alert
Back to Top