At present, there is a lack of detailed understanding on how the factors converging on water variables from mountain areas modify the quantity and quality of their watercourses, which are features determining these areas’ hydrological contribution to downstream regions. In order to remedy this situation to some extent, we studied the water-bodies of the western sector of the Sierra Nevada massif (Spain). Since thaw is a necessary but not sufficient contributor to the formation of these fragile water-bodies, we carried out field visits to identify their number, size and spatial distribution as well as their different modelling processes. The best-defined water-bodies were the result of glacial processes, such as overdeepening and moraine dams. These water-bodies are the highest in the massif (2918 m mean altitude), the largest and the deepest, making up 72% of the total. Another group is formed by hillside instability phenomena, which are very dynamic and are related to a variety of processes. The resulting water-bodies are irregular and located at lower altitudes (2842 m mean altitude), representing 25% of the total. The third group is the smallest (3%), with one subgroup formed by anthropic causes and another formed from unknown origin. It has recently been found that the Mediterranean and Atlantic watersheds of this massif are somewhat paradoxical in behaviour, since, despite its higher xericity, the Mediterranean watershed generally has higher water contents than the Atlantic. The overall cause of these discrepancies between watersheds is not connected to their formation processes. However, we found that the classification of water volumes by the manners of formation of their water-bodies is not coherent with the associated green fringes because of the anomalous behaviour of the water-bodies formed by moraine dams. This discrepancy is largely due to the passive role of the water retained in this type of water-body as it depends on the characteristics of its hollows. The water-bodies of Sierra Nevada close to the peak line (2918 m mean altitude) are therefore highly dependent on the glacial processes that created the hollows in which they are located. Slope instability created water-bodies mainly located at lower altitudes (2842 m mean altitude), representing tectonic weak zones or accumulation of debris, which are influenced by intense slope dynamics. These water-bodies are therefore more fragile, and their existence is probably more short-lived than that of bodies created under glacial conditions.
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