Snowmelt infiltration and storage within a karstic environment, Vers Chez le Brandt, Switzerland
Date de parution
Journal of Hydrology, Elsevier, 2015/529/Part 1/11-21
Even though karstic aquifers are important freshwater resources and frequently occur in mountainous areas, recharge processes related to snowmelt have received little attention thus far. Given the context of climate change, where alterations to seasonal snow patterns are anticipated, and the often-strong cou- pling between recharge and discharge in karst aquifers, this research area is of great importance. Therefore, we investigated how snowmelt water transits through the vadose and phreatic zone of a karst aquifer. This was accomplished by evaluating the relationships between meteorological data, soil–water content, vadose zone flow in a cave 53 m below ground and aquifer discharge. Time series data indicate that the quantity and duration of meltwater input at the soil surface influences flow and storage within the soil and epikarst. Prolonged periods of snowmelt promote perched storage in surficial soils and encourage surficial, lateral flow to preferential flow paths. Thus, in karstic watersheds overlain by crys- talline loess, a typical pedologic and lithologic pairing in central Europe and parts of North America, soils can serve as the dominant mechanism impeding infiltration and promoting shallow lateral flow. Further, hydrograph analysis of vadose zone flow and aquifer discharge, suggests that storage associated with shallow soils is the dominant source of discharge at time scales of up to several weeks after melt events, while phreatic storage becomes import during prolonged periods without input. Soils can moderate karst aquifer dynamics and play a more governing role on karst aquifer storage and discharge than previously credited. Overall, this signifies that a fundamental understanding of soil structure and distribution is critical when assessing recharge to karstic aquifers, particularly in cold regions.
Type de publication
Resource Types::text::journal::journal article
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