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Article

Upland Rootzone Soil Water Deficit Regulates Streamflow in a Catchment Dominated by North American Tallgrass Prairie

Department of Agronomy, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS 66506, USA
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Academic Editors: Briana Wyatt, Gehendra Kharel and Bharat Sharma Acharya
Water 2022, 14(5), 759; https://doi.org/10.3390/w14050759
Received: 4 February 2022 / Revised: 22 February 2022 / Accepted: 23 February 2022 / Published: 28 February 2022
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ecohydrological Response to Environmental Change)
Intermittent tallgrass prairie streams depend on surface runoff and are highly susceptible to hydrological disturbances such as droughts. The objective of this study was to investigate the timing of intermittent streamflow pulses and upstream rootzone soil water deficit in a watershed dominated by tallgrass prairie. The study was conducted from July to December 2021 in the Kings Creek watershed located within the Konza Prairie Biological station, Kansas, USA. Hourly precipitation and soil moisture observations in the 0–10, 10–30, and 30–50 cm depth were obtained from a hydrological network consisting of 16 monitoring stations across the Kings Creek watershed. Rootzone soil water storage (S) was computed at hourly time steps as the sum of the soil water storage of each soil layer. A drained upper limit (DUL) was estimated as the soil moisture remaining 24 h after the soil had been thoroughly wetted during large (~100 mm) rainfall events. A lower limit (LL) was estimated as the lowest rootzone soil water storage during the study period. Hourly soil water deficit (D) was computed as D = (DULS)/(DULLL). The study period had 19 precipitation events totaling 436 mm, and only 14 out of the 19 precipitation events exceeded a common canopy and litter interception threshold of 4 mm for tallgrass prairies in this region. Only two precipitation events resulted in measurable streamflow, and the inception of these two streamflow events was associated with a negative weighted soil water deficit (i.e., S > DUL). This pilot study revealed that upland rootzone soil water deficit plays a major role controlling the timing of streamflow in the Kings Creek watershed and possibly in other catchment areas with intermittent prairie streams. View Full-Text
Keywords: tallgrass prairie; in situ soil moisture; streamflow; runoff; hydrological network; Konza Prairie tallgrass prairie; in situ soil moisture; streamflow; runoff; hydrological network; Konza Prairie
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MDPI and ACS Style

Patrignani, A.; Parker, N.; Cominelli, S. Upland Rootzone Soil Water Deficit Regulates Streamflow in a Catchment Dominated by North American Tallgrass Prairie. Water 2022, 14, 759. https://doi.org/10.3390/w14050759

AMA Style

Patrignani A, Parker N, Cominelli S. Upland Rootzone Soil Water Deficit Regulates Streamflow in a Catchment Dominated by North American Tallgrass Prairie. Water. 2022; 14(5):759. https://doi.org/10.3390/w14050759

Chicago/Turabian Style

Patrignani, Andres, Nathaniel Parker, and Sofia Cominelli. 2022. "Upland Rootzone Soil Water Deficit Regulates Streamflow in a Catchment Dominated by North American Tallgrass Prairie" Water 14, no. 5: 759. https://doi.org/10.3390/w14050759

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