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Reconstructing Spatiotemporal Dynamics in Hydrological State Along Intermittent Rivers
Open AccessArticle

Controls on Streamflow Densities in Semiarid Rocky Mountain Catchments

1
Department of Ecosystem Science and Sustainability, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523, USA
2
Now at TCarta Marine LLC, Denver, CO 80204, USA
3
Now at U.S. Geological Survey, MD-DE-DC Water Science Center, Catonsville, MD 21228, USA
4
Natural Resources Ecology Laboratory, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523, USA
5
Department of Geological Sciences, and Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80309, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: José María Senciales-González
Water 2021, 13(4), 521; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13040521
Received: 30 November 2020 / Revised: 11 February 2021 / Accepted: 13 February 2021 / Published: 17 February 2021
Developing accurate stream maps requires both an improved understanding of the drivers of streamflow spatial patterns and field verification. This study examined streamflow locations in three semiarid catchments across an elevation gradient in the Colorado Front Range, USA. The locations of surface flow throughout each channel network were mapped in the field and used to compute active drainage densities. Field surveys of active flow were compared to National Hydrography Dataset High Resolution (NHD HR) flowlines, digital topographic data, and geologic maps. The length of active flow declined with stream discharge in each of the catchments, with the greatest decline in the driest catchment. Of the tributaries that did not dry completely, 60% had stable flow heads and the remaining tributaries had flow heads that moved downstream with drying. The flow heads were initiated at mean contributing areas of 0.1 km2 at the lowest elevation catchment and 0.5 km2 at the highest elevation catchment, leading to active drainage densities that declined with elevation and snow persistence. The field mapped drainage densities were less than half the drainage densities that were represented using NHD HR. Geologic structures influenced the flow locations, with multiple flow heads initiated along faults and some tributaries following either fault lines or lithologic contacts. View Full-Text
Keywords: intermittent stream; topographic wetness index; drainage area; drainage density; hydrography intermittent stream; topographic wetness index; drainage area; drainage density; hydrography
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MDPI and ACS Style

Martin, C.; Kampf, S.K.; Hammond, J.C.; Wilson, C.; Anderson, S.P. Controls on Streamflow Densities in Semiarid Rocky Mountain Catchments. Water 2021, 13, 521. https://doi.org/10.3390/w13040521

AMA Style

Martin C, Kampf SK, Hammond JC, Wilson C, Anderson SP. Controls on Streamflow Densities in Semiarid Rocky Mountain Catchments. Water. 2021; 13(4):521. https://doi.org/10.3390/w13040521

Chicago/Turabian Style

Martin, Caroline; Kampf, Stephanie K.; Hammond, John C.; Wilson, Codie; Anderson, Suzanne P. 2021. "Controls on Streamflow Densities in Semiarid Rocky Mountain Catchments" Water 13, no. 4: 521. https://doi.org/10.3390/w13040521

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