Hydrological Processes, Volume 34, Issue 3

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Seasonal ground ice impacts on spring ecohydrological conditions in a western boreal plains peatland
Brandon Van Huizen | Richard M. Petrone | Jonathan S. Price | William L. Quinton | John W. Pomeroy

Peatlands in the Western Boreal Plains act as important water sources in the landscape. Their persistence, despite potential evapotranspiration (PET) often exceeding annual precipitation, is attributed to various water storage mechanisms. One storage element that has been understudied is seasonal ground ice (SGI). This study characterized spring SGI conditions and explored its impacts on available energy, actual evapotranspiration, water table, and near surface soil moisture in a western boreal plains peatland. The majority of SGI melt took place over May 2017. Microtopography had limited impact on melt rates due to wet conditions. SGI melt released 139mm in ice water equivalent (IWE) within the top 30cm of the peat, and weak significant relationships with water table and surface moisture suggest that SGI could be important for maintaining vegetation transpiration during dry springs. Melting SGI decreased available energy causing small reductions in PET (<10mm over the melt period) and appeared to reduce actual evapotranspiration variability but not mean rates, likely due to slow melt rates. This suggests that melting SGI supplies water, allowing evapotranspiration to occur at near potential rates, but reduces the overall rate at which evapotranspiration could occur (PET). The role of SGI may help peatlands in headwater catchments act as a conveyor of water to downstream landscapes during the spring while acting as a supply of water for the peatland. Future work should investigate SGI influences on evapotranspiration under differing peatland types, wet and dry spring conditions, and if the spatial variability of SGI melt leads to spatial variability in evapotranspiration.

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Developing observational methods to drive future hydrological science: Can we make a start as a community?
Keith Beven | Anita Asadullah | Paul Bates | Eleanor Blyth | Nick A. Chappell | Stewart Child | Hannah Cloke | Simon Dadson | Nick Everard | Hayley J. Fowler | Jim Freer | David M. Hannah | Kate Heppell | Joseph Holden | Robert A. Lamb | Huw Lewis | Gerald Morgan | Louise Parry | Thorsten Wagener

Hydrology is still, and for good reasons, an inexact science, even if evolving hydrological understanding has provided a basis for improved water management for at least the last three millennia. The limitations of that understanding have, however, become much more apparent and important in the last century as the pressures of increasing populations, and the anthropogenic impacts on catchment forcing and responses, have intensified. At the same time, the sophistication of hydrological analyses and models has been developing rapidly, often driven more by the availability of computational power and geographical data sets than any real increases in understanding of hydrological processes. This sophistication has created an illusion of real progress but a case can be made that we are still rather muddling along, limited by the significant uncertainties in hydrological observations, knowledge of catchment characteristics and related gaps in conceptual understanding, particularly of the sub-surface. These knowledge gaps are illustrated by the fact that for many catchments we cannot close the water balance without significant uncertainty, uncertainty that is often neglected in evaluating models for practical applications.