Characterizing the climatic water balance dynamics and different runoff components in a poorly gauged tropical forested catchment, Nicaragua

Heyddy Calderon, Stefan Uhlenbrook

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The water balance dynamics and runoff components of a tropical forested catchment (46 km2) on the southwestern Pacific coast of Nicaragua were studied combining hydrometry, geological characterization and hydrochemical and isotopic tracers (three-component hydrograph separation). The climatic water balance was estimated for 2010/11, 2011/12 and 2012/13 with net values of 811 mm year-1, 782 mm year-1 and –447 mm year-1, respectively. Runoff components were studied at different spatial and temporal scales, demonstrating that different sources and temporal contributions are controlled by dominant landscape elements and antecedent rainfall. In forested sub-catchments, permeable soils, stratigraphy and steep slopes favour subsurface stormflow generation contributing 50% and 53% to total discharge. At catchment scale, landscape elements such as smooth slopes, wide valleys, deeper soils and water table allow groundwater recharge during rainfall events. Groundwater dominates the hydrograph (50% of total discharge) under dry prior conditions. However, low soil infiltration capacity generates a larger surface runoff component (42%) under wet prior conditions which dominates total discharge. Our results show that forested areas are important to reduce surface runoff and thus soil degradation, which is relevant for the design of water management plans. Editor D. Koutsoyiannis Associate editor D. Gerten

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2465-2480
Number of pages16
JournalHydrological Sciences Journal
Volume61
Issue number14
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 25 Oct 2016

Keywords

  • forested catchment
  • groundwater flow
  • Nicaragua
  • poorly gauged catchment
  • runoff generation
  • Tropical hydrology

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