To increase drought preparedness in semi-arid regions many small and medium reservoirs have been built in recent decades. Together these reservoirs form a Dense Reservoir Network (DRN) and its presence generates numerous challenges for water management. Most of the reservoirs that constitute the network are unmonitored and unregistered, posing questions on their cumulative effects on strategic reservoirs and water distribution at watershed scale. Their influence on hydrological drought propagation is thus largely unexplored. The objective of this study is then to assess the DRN effects on droughts both in time and space. This study utilized a mesoscale semi-distributed hydrological model to reproduce the DRN in a large-scale tropical semiarid watershed (19,530 km2), which presents both a network of large strategic reservoirs and a DRN. To investigate the effects in time and space generated by the network’s presence, the differences between multiple network scenarios were analyzed. Results show that the presence of the DRN accelerates the transition from meteorological to hydrological drought phases by 20% on average and slows down the recharge in strategic reservoirs by 25%, leading to a 12% increase of periods in hydrological drought conditions in a highly strategic basin and 26% without strategic reservoirs. In space, the DRN shifts upstream the basin’s water storage capacity by 8%, but when both large and small reservoirs are present the stored volume distribution behavior is not straightforward. The findings confirm the need to consider small reservoirs when addressing drought management policies at regional scale.
Salmonids bury their eggs in hyporheic streambed gravel, forming an egg nest, called a redd, characterized by a pit and a hump topography resembling a dune. Embryos’ survival depends on downwelling oxygen-rich stream water fluxes, whose magnitudes are expected to depend on the interactions among redd shape, stream hydraulics, and the hydraulic conductivity of the streambed sediment. Here, we hypothesize that downwelling fluxes increase with stream discharge and redd aspect ratio, and such fluxes can be predicted using a set of dimensionless numbers, which include the stream flow Reynolds and Froude numbers, the redd aspect ratio, and the redd relative submergence. We address our goal by simulating the surface and subsurface flows with numerical hydraulic models linked through the near-bed pressure distribution quantified with a two-phase (air-water) two-dimensional surface water computational fluid dynamics model, validated with flume experiments. We apply the modeling approach to three redd sizes, which span the observed range in the field (from ~1 to ~4 m long), and by increasing discharge from shallow (0.1 m) and slow (0.15 m/s) to deep (8m) and fast (3.3 m/s). Results support our hypothesis of downwelling fluxes increasing with discharge and redd aspect ratio due to the increased near-bed head gradient over the redd. The derived equation may help evaluate the effect of regulated flow (e.g., hydroelectric and flood control dams) on redd-induced hyporheic flows.
Flow direction modeling consists of (1) an accurate representation of the river network and (2) digital elevation model (DEM) processing to preserve characteristics with hydrological significance. In part 1 of our study, we presented a mesh-independent approach to representing river networks on different types of meshes. This follow-up part 2 study presents a novel DEM processing approach for flow direction modeling. This approach consists of (1) a topological relationship-based hybrid breaching-filling method to conduct stream burning for the river network and (2) a modified depression removal method for rivers and hillslopes. Our methods minimize modifications to surface elevations and provide a robust two-step procedure to remove local depressions in DEM. They are mesh-independent and can be applied to both structured and unstructured meshes. We applied our new methods to the Susquehanna River Basin with different model configurations. The results show that topological relationship-based stream burning and depression-filling methods can reproduce the correct river networks, providing high-quality flow direction and other characteristics for hydrologic and Earth system models.
As an important anthropogenic interference on the water cycle, reservoir operation behavior remains challenging to be properly represented in hydrologic models, thus limiting the capability of predicting streamflow under the interactions between hydrologic variability and operational preferences. Data-driven models provide a promising approach to represent reservoir operation rules by capturing relationships embedded in historical records. Similar to hydrologic processes vary across temporal scales, reservoir operations manifest themselves at different timescales, prioritizing different targets to mitigate streamflow variability at a given time scale. To capture interactions of reservoir operations across time scales, we proposed a hierarchical temporal scale framework to investigate the behaviors of over 300 major reservoirs across the Contiguous United States with a wide range of streamflow conditions. Machine learning models were constructed to simulate reservoir operation at daily, weekly, and monthly scales, where decisions at short-term scales interact with long-term decisions. We found that the hierarchical temporal scale configuration better captures reservoir releases than models constructed at a single time scale, especially for reservoirs with multiple operation targets. Model-based sensitivity analysis shows that for more than one third of the studied reservoirs, the release schemes, as a function of decision variables, vary at different time scales, suggesting that operators are commonly faced with complicated trade-offs to serve multiple purposes. The proposed hierarchical temporal scale approach is flexible to incorporate various data-driven models and decision variables to derive reservoir operation rule, providing a robust framework to understand the feedbacks between natural streamflow variability and human interferences across time scales.
The drought resilience of forest ecosystems is generally believed to strongly depend on the dominant tree species’ hydraulic traits. These traits define the maximum water transport capacity and the degree of vulnerability to hydraulic failure of a given tree species. This work evaluates the effect of the intraspecific variability of hydraulic traits on the simulated tree water use in the Community Land Model (CLM, version 5.0). We selected two broadleaved tree species with contrasting phenologies, geographical distribution, degrees of vulnerability to hydraulic failure, and water use strategies. We performed a series of numerical experiments by modifying the parameters of the plant vulnerability curve and the maximum xylem hydraulic conductance to account for the variability within each tree species. Our prescribed parameter sets represent vulnerable and resistant tree responses to the water deficit. At sites with an ample water supply, the resistant configuration simulates reduced water stress and increased transpiration compared to the vulnerable configuration, whereas at temporarily dry sites, the model results are counter-intuitive when water availability is the limiting factor. The numerical experiments demonstrate the emergent role of the maximum xylem conductance as a modulator of the plant water use strategy and the simulated transpiration. Using the default value for maximum xylem conductance, the model tends to overestimate the spring transpiration at drier sites, forcing the vegetation to experience unrealistic water stress in summer. Our findings suggest that the parameterization of maximum xylem conductance is an important and yet unresolved problem in the CLM and similar land surface models.
Transpiration is a key process driving energy, water and thus carbon dynamics. Global T products are fundamental for understanding and predicting vegetation processes. However, validation of these transpiration products is limited, mainly due to lack of suitable datasets. We propose a method to use SAPFLUXNET, the first quality-controlled global tree sap flow database, for evaluating transpiration products at global scale. Our method is based on evaluating temporal mismatches, rather than absolute values, by standardizing both transpiration and sap flow products. We evaluate how transpiration responses to hydro-meteorological variation from the Global Land Evaporation Amsterdam Model (GLEAM), a widely used global transpiration product, compare to in-situ responses from SAPFLUXNET field data. Our results show GLEAM and SAPFLUXNET temporal trends are in good agreement, but diverge under extreme conditions. Their temporal mismatches differ depending on the magnitude of transpiration and are not random, but linked to energy and water availability. Despite limitations, we show that the new global SAPFLUXNET dataset is a valuable tool to evaluate T products and identify problematic assumptions and processes embedded in models. The approach we propose can, therefore, be the foundation for a wider use of SAPFLUXNET, a new, independent, source of information, to understand the mechanisms controlling global transpiration fluxes.
Mountain landscapes have dynamic climates that, together with tectonic processes, influence their topographic evolution. While spatio-temporal changes in rainfall are ubiquitous in these settings, their influence on river incision is understudied. Here, we investigate how changes in rainfall pattern should affect both the steady state form and transient evolution of river profiles at the catchment scale using the stream power model. We find that spatially varied rainfall can complicate steady state relationships between mean rainfall, channel steepness and fluvial relief, depending on where rainfall is concentrated in catchments. As a result, transient profile adjustments to climate changes may proceed contrary to typical expectations, which can ultimately affect the apparent sensitivity of landscapes and erosion rates to climate. Additionally, changes in rainfall pattern cause inherently multi-stage transient responses that differ from responses to uniform changes in rainfall. These results have important implications for detecting transient responses to changes in rainfall pattern (and more broadly climate), and for interpreting of landscape morphometrics above and below knickpoints. Further, we find that disparate responses by rivers that experience different rainfall conditions, particularly trunk and tributary rivers, are an important factor in understanding catchment-wide responses, and accounting for such disparities may be important for detecting and quantifying landscape sensitivity to variations in climate. Lastly, we show how explicitly accounting for rainfall patterns in channel steepness indices, and thus variations in erosional efficiency, has potential to help address challenges related to spatially variable rainfall patterns and advance understanding of landscape sensitivity to climate in mountain settings.
The Dotson Ice Shelf has resisted acceleration and ice-front retreat despite high basal-melt rates and rapid disaggregation of the neighboring Crosson Ice Shelf. Because of this lack of acceleration, previous studies have assumed that Dotson is stable. Here we show clear evidence of Dotson's destabilization as it decelerates, contrary to the common assumption that ice-flow deceleration is synonymous with stability. Ungrounding of a series of pinning points initiated acceleration in the Upper Dotson in the early 2000s, which subsequently slowed ice flow in the Lower Dotson. Discharge from the tributary Kohler Glacier into Crosson increased, but non-proportionally. Using ICESat and ICESat-2 altimetry data we show that ungrounding of the remaining pinning points is linked to a tripling in basal melt rates between 2006-2016 and 2016-2020. Basal melt rates on Crosson doubled over the same period. The higher basal melt at Lower Dotson is consistent with the cyclonic ocean circulation in the Dotson cavity, which tends to lift isopycnals and allow warmer deep water to interact with the ice. Given current surface-lowering rates, we estimate that several remaining pinning points in the Upper Dotson will unground within one to three decades. The grounding line of Kohler Glacier will retreat past a bathymetric saddle by the late 2030s and merge into the Smith West Glacier catchment, raising concern that reconfiguration of regional ice-flow dynamics and new pathways for the intrusion of warm modified Circumpolar Deep Water could further accelerate grounding-line retreat in the Dotson-Crosson Ice Shelf System.
We develop a regional hydrological model that applies to arid and semi-arid regions, by explicitly considering the effect of irrigation on the hydrological processes. A new irrigation module is here integrated into the recently introduced Atmospheric and Hydrological Modelling System (AHMS) for the quantitative assessment of basin-scale hydrological response to climate change and the impact of anthropogenic activities on water resources. The land surface, channel routing and groundwater modules of the AHMS are extended here to incorporate the new module. We then apply the model to simulating the hydrological processes in the Yellow River Basin, an arid and semi-arid region where irrigation constitutes the most important source of water use. The model is calibrated and validated using in-situ and remote sensing observations. This study demonstrates the capability of the AHMS for regional hydrological modelling in arid and semi-arid basins where irrigation profoundly influences the water balance.
Holistic approaches are needed to investigate the capacity of current water resource operations and infrastructure to sustain water supply and critical ecosystem health under projected drought conditions. Drought vulnerability is complex, dynamic, and challenging to assess, requiring simultaneous consideration of changing water demand, use and management, hydrologic system response, and water quality. We are bringing together a community of scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Department of Energy, and Cornell University to create an integrated human-hydro-terrestrial modeling framework, linking pre-existing models, that can explore and synthesize system response and vulnerability to drought in the Delaware River Basin (DRB). The DRB provides drinking water to over 15 million people in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware. Critical water management decisions within the system are coordinated through the Delaware River Basin Commission and must meet requirements set by prior litigation. New York City has rights to divert water from the upper basin for water supply but must manage reservoir releases to meet downstream flow and temperature targets. The Office of the Delaware River Master administers provisions of the Flexible Flow Management Program designed to manage reservoir releases to meet water supply demands, habitat, and specified downstream minimum flows to repel upstream movement of saltwater in the estuary that threatens Philadelphia public water supply and other infrastructure. The DRB weathered a major drought in the 1960s, but water resource managers do not know if current operations and water demands can be sustained during a future drought of comparable magnitude. The integrated human-hydro-terrestrial modeling framework will be used to identify water supply and ecosystem vulnerabilities to drought and will characterize system function and evolution during and after periods of drought stress. Models will be forced with consistent input data sets representing scenarios of past, present, and future conditions. The approaches used to unify and harmonize diverse data sets and open-source models will provide a roadmap for the broader community to replicate and extend to other water resource issues and regions.
Evidence based on sparse tree-ring data suggests a severe sustained drought occurred in the 2nd century CE that could have rivaled medieval period droughts in the Colorado River basin (Gangopadhyay et al. 2022). Most of these tree-ring data have been used in gridded drought reconstructions (Cook et al., 2010) which extend back to 1 CE over an area that includes the intermountain western US. However, the 2nd century drought has not been highlighted in prior studies given the sparseness of the data available for this time period. A new reconstruction of Colorado River flow based on these data documents a notably severe and sustained drought over much of the 2nd century (Gangopadhyay et al. 2022). While this reconstruction suggests that the drought exceeds the severity and duration of any drought in the past 2000 years, a complete assessment of the 2nd century drought is challenging due to the sparseness of data. In this poster presentation, we describe the tree-ring data available, along with other proxy data that provide evidence for the 2nd century drought and support its severity. In our conclusions, we discuss outstanding questions and thoughts for further work.
Geodetic altimeters provide unique observations of the river surface longitudinal profile due to their long repeat periods and densely spaced ground tracks. This information is valuable for calibrating hydraulic model parameters, and thus for producing reliable simulations of water level for flood forecasting and river management, particularly in poorly instrumented catchments. In this study, we present an efficient calibration approach for hydraulic models based on a steady-state hydraulic solver and CryoSat-2 observations. In order to ensure that only coherent forcing/observation pairs are considered in the calibration, we first propose an outlier filtering approach for CryoSat-2 observations in data-scarce regions using simulated runoff produced by a hydrologic model. In the hydraulic calibration, a steady-state solver computes the WSE profile along the river for selected discharges corresponding to the days of CryoSat-2 overpass. In synthetic calibration experiments, the global search algorithm generally recovers the true parameter values in portions of the river where observations are available, illustrating the benefit of dense spatial sampling from geodetic altimetry. The most sensitive parameters are the bed elevations. In calibration experiments with real CryoSat-2 data, validation performance against both Sentinel-3 WSE and in-situ records is similar to previous studies, with RMSD ranging from 0.43 to 1.14 m against Sentinel-3 and 0.60 to 0.73 against in-situ WSE observations. Performance remains similar when transferring parameters to a one-dimensional hydrodynamic model. Because the approach is computationally efficient, model parameters can be inverted at high spatial resolution to fully exploit the information contained in geodetic CryoSat-2 altimetry.
Snowpack accumulation in forested watersheds depends on the amount of snow intercepted in the canopy and its partitioning into sublimation, unloading, and melt. A lack of canopy snow measurements limits our ability to evaluate models that simulate canopy processes and predict snowpack and water supply. Here, we tested whether monitoring changes in wind-induced tree sway can enable snow interception detection and estimation of canopy snow water equivalent (SWE). We monitored hourly tree sway across six years based on 12 Hz accelerometer observations on two subalpine conifer trees in Colorado. We developed an approach to distinguish changes in sway frequency due to thermal effects on tree rigidity versus intercepted snow mass. Over 60% of days with canopy snow had a sway signal in the range of possible thermal effects. However, when tree sway decreased outside the range of thermal effects, canopy snow was present 93-95% of the time, as confirmed with classifications of PhenoCam imagery. Using sway tests, we converted significant changes in sway to canopy SWE, which was correlated with total snowstorm amounts from a nearby SNOTEL site (Spearman r=0.72 to 0.80, p<0.001). Greater canopy SWE was associated with storm temperatures between -7 C and 0 C and wind speeds less than 4 m/s. Lower canopy SWE prevailed in storms with lower temperatures and higher wind speeds. We conclude that monitoring tree sway is a viable approach for quantifying canopy SWE, but challenges remain in converting changes in sway to mass and further distinguishing thermal and mass effects on tree sway.
An analysis of concurrent extreme events of continental precipitation and Integrated Water Vapour Transport (IVT) is crucial to our understanding of the role of the major global mechanisms of atmospheric moisture transport, including that of the landfalling Atmospheric Rivers (ARs) in extratropical regions. For this purpose, gridded data on CPC precipitation and ERA-5 IVT at a spatial resolution of 0.5º were used to analyze these concurrent events, covering the period from Winter 1980/1981 to Autumn 2017. For each season, and for each point with more than 400 non-dry days, several copula models were fitted to model the joint distribution function of the two variables. At each of the analysed points, the best copula model was used to estimate the probability of a concurrent extreme. At the same time, within the sample of observed concurrent extremes, the proportion of days with landfalling ARs was calculated for the whole period and for two 15-year sub-periods, one earlier period and one more recent (warmer) period. Three metrics based on copulas were used to analyse carefully the influence of IVT on extreme precipitation in the main regions of occurrence of AR landfall. The results show that the probability of occurrence of concurrent extremes is strongly conditioned by the dynamic component of the IVT, the wind. The occurrence of landfalling ARs accounts for most of the concurrent extreme days of IVT and continental precipitation, with percentages of concurrent extreme days close to 90% in some seasons in almost all the known regions of maximum occurrence of landfalling ARs, and with percentages greater than 75% downwind of AR landfall regions. This coincidence was lower in tropical regions, and in monsoonal areas in particular, with percentages of less than 50%. With a few exceptions, the role of landfalling ARs as drivers of concurrent extremes of IVT and continental precipitation tends to show a decrease in recent (warmer) periods. For almost all the landfalling AR regions with high or very high probabilities of achieving a concurrent extreme, there is a general trend towards a lower influence of IVT on extreme continental precipitation in recent (warmer) periods.
Global groundwater volumes in the upper 2 km of the Earth’s continental crust – critical for water security – are well estimated. Beyond these depths, a vast body of largely saline and non-potable groundwater exists down to at least 10 km —a volume that has not yet been quantified reliably at the global scale. Here, we estimate the amount of groundwater present in the upper 10 km of the Earth’s continental crust by examining the distribution of sedimentary and cratonic rocks with depth and applying porosity-depth relationships. We demonstrate that groundwater in the 2-10 km zone (what we call ‘deep groundwater’) has a volume comparable to that of groundwater in the upper 2 km of the Earth’s crust. These new estimates make groundwater the largest continental reservoir of water, ahead of ice sheets, provide a basis to quantify geochemical cycles, and constrain the potential for large-scale isolation of waste fluids.
Moisture recycling via evapotranspiration (ET) is often invoked as a mechanism for the high deuterium excess signals observed in continental precipitation (dP). However, a global-scale analysis of precipitation monitoring station isotope data shows that metrics of ET contributions to precipitation (van der Ent et al., 2014) explain little dp variability on seasonal timescales. This occurs despite the fact that ET contributions increase by ~50% in continental locations such as the Eurasian interior from wet to dry seasons. To explain this apparent paradox, we hypothesize that the effects of ET on dP are dampened during dry seasons due to contributions from isotopically-evolved residual water storage that act to lower the d-excess of ET fluxes (dET), in combination with changes in transpiration fraction (T/ET). To test this hypothesis, we develop a parsimonious two-season (wet, dry) model for dET incorporating residual water storage and ET partitioning effects. We find that in environments with limited water storage, such as shallow-rooted grasslands, dry season dET is lower than wet season dET despite lower relative humidity. As global average ratios of annual water storage to precipitation are relatively low (Guntner et al., 2007), these dynamics may be widespread over continents. In environments where water storage is not limiting, such as groundwater-dependent ecosystems, dry season dET is still likely lower; however, this effect arises instead due to higher seasonal T/ET when energy-driven plant water use is enhanced and surface evaporation is relatively limited by water availability. Together, these analyses also indicate multiple mechanisms by which dET may be lower than dp during the same season, challenging the view that moisture recycling feedback increases the dp in continental interiors. This work demonstrates the potential complexity of seasonal dp dynamics and cautions against simple interpretations of dP as a process tracer for moisture recycling. References: Guntner et al., 2007. Water Resour. Res., 43, W05416. van der Ent et al., 2014. Earth Syst. Dynam., 5, 471–489.
We examined the effect of land cover on stream discharge in hilly catchment streams during extreme rain events. Three years of rainfall-runoff observations, between January 2014 and December 2016, were collected in eleven neighbouring catchments. Each catchment was dominated by a different land cover, namely natural shola forests, natural grasslands and wattle (Acacia mearnsii). Rain intensities between percentiles 25-90, 90-95 and over 95 were categorised as light, heavy and extreme and were used to study stream discharge responses. Land cover significantly influenced the hydrologic response to extreme rain events. During light rains (< 38 mm/day), grassland dominated catchments showed higher discharge than shola (0.01 mm/s) and wattle (0.004 mm/s). However, during extreme rain events (> 71 mm/day) discharge was significantly higher in wattle dominated catchments when compared to the natural shola (0.033 mm/s) and grasslands (0.023 mm/s). Antecedent moisture conditions played a major role in determining peak flows along with rainfall, catchment shape and drainage density.
Optical televiewer borehole logging within a crevassed region of fast-moving Store Glacier, Greenland, revealed the presence of 35 high-angle planes that cut across the background primary stratification. These planes were composed of a bubble-free layer of refrozen ice, most of which hosted thin laminae of bubble-rich ‘last frozen’ ice, consistent with the planes being the traces of former open crevasses. Several such last-frozen laminae were observed in four traces, suggesting multiple episodes of crevasse reactivation. The frequency of crevasse traces generally decreased with depth, with the deepest detectable trace being 265 m below the surface. This is consistent with the extent of the warmer-than-modelled englacial ice layer in the area, which extends from the surface to a depth of ~400 m. Crevasse trace orientation was strongly clustered around a dip of 63° and a strike that was offset by 71° from orthogonal to the local direction of principal extending strain. The traces’ antecedent crevasses were therefore interpreted to have originated upglacier, probably ~8 km distant involving mixed-mode (I and III) formation. We conclude that deep crevassing is pervasive across Store Glacier, and therefore also at all dynamically similar outlet glaciers. Once healed, their traces represent planes of weakness subject to reactivation during their subsequent advection through the glacier. Given their depth, it is highly likely that such traces - particularly those formed downglacier - survive surface ablation to reach the glacier terminus, where they may represent foci for fracture and iceberg calving.