Variability in soil hydraulic conductivity in the Heihe River Watershed, Northwest China

Authors: Chansheng He*, Western Michigan University, Jie Tian, Center for Dryland Water Resources Research and Watershed Science, Lanzhou University, P.R. China, Baoqing Zhang, Center for Dryland Water Resources Research and Watershed Science, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou, 730000, China, Lixiao Yang, Center for Dryland Water Resources Research and Watershed Science, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou, 730000, China
Topics: Water Resources and Hydrology, Physical Geography, Environmental Science
Keywords: saturated hydraulic conductivity; soil hydrological response; land cover; the Heihe river watershed; mountainous area.
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/11/2018
Start / End Time: 3:20 PM / 5:00 PM
Room: Muses, Sheraton, 8th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Understanding of the variability of soil hydraulic conductivity is critical to the modelling of hydrological processes and the water resources management of river basins, especially in the arid and semiarid mountainous watersheds. In this study, a total of 32 soil profiles with 5 layers within 0-70 cm were sampled under different land cover types: forest, meadow, high coverage grassland (HCG), medium coverage grassland (MCG) and barren land in the upper reach of the Heihe River Watershed, Northwest China. Saturated hydraulic conductivity (KS) was measured for each sample. The vertical variation of KS and soil hydrological response under different land covers were analyzed. Results show that KS value in layer 5 was significant lower than the values of above 4 layers. KS decreased in the order of forest, meadow, HCG, MCG, and barren land, corresponding to the degree of vegetation degradation. The KS decreased with depth under forest, HCG and barren land, but increased first and then decreased under meadow and MCG. The dominant stormflow paths (DSP) for different land covers were different: forest was dominated by deep percolation (DP), HCG was dominated by subsurface flow (SSF), meadow was prevailed by Hortonian overland flow (HOF) and had no SSF, while MCG and barren land were also dominated by HOF, but still formed SSF. The results provide important information for improving the accuracy of mountainous hydrological modeling, and in turn supporting sustainable management of water resources in the study watershed.

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