Geophysical Measurements to Determine the Hydrologic Partitioning of Snowmelt on a Snow-Dominated Subalpine Hillslope

Drew Thayer, Andrew D. Parsekian, Kevin Hyde, Heather Speckman, Dan Beverly, Brent Ewers, Matt Covalt, Nadia Fantello, Thijs Kelleners, Noriaki Ohara, Trent Rogers, W. Steven Holbrook

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

In subalpine watersheds of the intermountain western United States, snowpack melt is the dominant water input to the hydrologic system. The primary focus of this work is to understand the partitioning of water from the snowpack during the snowmelt period and through the remainder of the growing season. We conducted a time-lapse electrical resistivity tomography (ERT) study in conjunction with a water budget analysis to track water from the snow-on through snow-off season (May–August 2015). Seismic velocities provided an estimate of regolith thickness while transpiration measurements from sap flow in conifer trees provided insight into root water uptake. We observed four hydrologic process-periods and found that deep flow and tree water fluxes are the primary pathways through which water moves off of the hillslope. Overland flow and interflow were negligible. We observed temporal changes in vadose zone water content more than 3.0 m below the surface. Our results show that vertical flow through the thin soil mantle overlaying coarse colluvial regolith was the primary pathway to a local unconfined aquifer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3788-3808
Number of pages21
JournalWater Resources Research
Volume54
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2018

Keywords

  • hillslope
  • hydrogeophysics

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