A comparison of wetness indices for the prediction of observed connected saturated areas under contrasting conditions

Genevieve Ali*, Christian Birkel, Doerthe Tetzlaff, Christopher Soulsby, Jeffrey J. McDonnell, Paolo Tarolli

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

38 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

For lack of other widely available spatial information, topography is often used to predict water fluxes and water quality in mesoscale watersheds. Such data have however proven to be misleading in many environments where large and flat valley bottoms and/or highly conducive soil covers determine water storage and water transport mechanisms. Also, the focus is generally on the prediction of saturation areas regardless of whether they are connected to the catchment hydrographic network or rather present in isolated topographic depressions. Here soil information was coupled with terrain data towards the targeted prediction of connected saturated areas. The focus was on the 30km(2) Girnock catchment (Cairngorm Mountains, northeast Scotland) and its 3km(2) sub-catchment, Bruntland Burn in which seven field surveys were done to capture actual maps of connected saturated areas in both dry and humid conditions. The 1km(2) resolution UK Hydrology of Soil Types (HOST) classification was used to extract relevant, spatially variable, soil parameters. Results show that connected saturated areas were fairly well predicted by wetness indices but only in wet conditions when they covered more than 30% of the whole catchment area. Geomorphic indices including information on terrain shape, steepness, aspect, soil texture and soil depth showed potential but generally performed poorly. Indices based on soil and topographic data did not have more predictive power than those based on topographic information only: this was attributed to the coarse resolution of the HOST classification. Nevertheless, analyses provided interesting insights into the scale-dependent water storage and transport mechanisms in both study catchments. Copyright (c) 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)399-413
Number of pages15
JournalEarth Surface Processes and Landforms
Volume39
Issue number3
Early online date17 Dec 2013
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Mar 2014

Keywords

  • wetness indices
  • observed saturation areas
  • connectivity
  • stream network
  • data resolution
  • soil-moisture patterns
  • spatial-distribution
  • surface saturation
  • field observations
  • runoff generation
  • water content
  • catchment
  • flow
  • topography
  • rainfall

Cite this

A comparison of wetness indices for the prediction of observed connected saturated areas under contrasting conditions. / Ali, Genevieve; Birkel, Christian; Tetzlaff, Doerthe; Soulsby, Christopher; McDonnell, Jeffrey J.; Tarolli, Paolo.

In: Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, Vol. 39, No. 3, 15.03.2014, p. 399-413.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

@article{9aec8f8ec51b4b2ba73f5eb908024c18,
title = "A comparison of wetness indices for the prediction of observed connected saturated areas under contrasting conditions",
abstract = "For lack of other widely available spatial information, topography is often used to predict water fluxes and water quality in mesoscale watersheds. Such data have however proven to be misleading in many environments where large and flat valley bottoms and/or highly conducive soil covers determine water storage and water transport mechanisms. Also, the focus is generally on the prediction of saturation areas regardless of whether they are connected to the catchment hydrographic network or rather present in isolated topographic depressions. Here soil information was coupled with terrain data towards the targeted prediction of connected saturated areas. The focus was on the 30km(2) Girnock catchment (Cairngorm Mountains, northeast Scotland) and its 3km(2) sub-catchment, Bruntland Burn in which seven field surveys were done to capture actual maps of connected saturated areas in both dry and humid conditions. The 1km(2) resolution UK Hydrology of Soil Types (HOST) classification was used to extract relevant, spatially variable, soil parameters. Results show that connected saturated areas were fairly well predicted by wetness indices but only in wet conditions when they covered more than 30{\%} of the whole catchment area. Geomorphic indices including information on terrain shape, steepness, aspect, soil texture and soil depth showed potential but generally performed poorly. Indices based on soil and topographic data did not have more predictive power than those based on topographic information only: this was attributed to the coarse resolution of the HOST classification. Nevertheless, analyses provided interesting insights into the scale-dependent water storage and transport mechanisms in both study catchments. Copyright (c) 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.",
keywords = "wetness indices, observed saturation areas, connectivity, stream network, data resolution, soil-moisture patterns, spatial-distribution, surface saturation, field observations, runoff generation, water content, catchment, flow, topography, rainfall",
author = "Genevieve Ali and Christian Birkel and Doerthe Tetzlaff and Christopher Soulsby and McDonnell, {Jeffrey J.} and Paolo Tarolli",
year = "2014",
month = "3",
day = "15",
doi = "10.1002/esp.3506",
language = "English",
volume = "39",
pages = "399--413",
journal = "Earth Surface Processes and Landforms",
issn = "0197-9337",
publisher = "John Wiley and Sons Ltd",
number = "3",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - A comparison of wetness indices for the prediction of observed connected saturated areas under contrasting conditions

AU - Ali, Genevieve

AU - Birkel, Christian

AU - Tetzlaff, Doerthe

AU - Soulsby, Christopher

AU - McDonnell, Jeffrey J.

AU - Tarolli, Paolo

PY - 2014/3/15

Y1 - 2014/3/15

N2 - For lack of other widely available spatial information, topography is often used to predict water fluxes and water quality in mesoscale watersheds. Such data have however proven to be misleading in many environments where large and flat valley bottoms and/or highly conducive soil covers determine water storage and water transport mechanisms. Also, the focus is generally on the prediction of saturation areas regardless of whether they are connected to the catchment hydrographic network or rather present in isolated topographic depressions. Here soil information was coupled with terrain data towards the targeted prediction of connected saturated areas. The focus was on the 30km(2) Girnock catchment (Cairngorm Mountains, northeast Scotland) and its 3km(2) sub-catchment, Bruntland Burn in which seven field surveys were done to capture actual maps of connected saturated areas in both dry and humid conditions. The 1km(2) resolution UK Hydrology of Soil Types (HOST) classification was used to extract relevant, spatially variable, soil parameters. Results show that connected saturated areas were fairly well predicted by wetness indices but only in wet conditions when they covered more than 30% of the whole catchment area. Geomorphic indices including information on terrain shape, steepness, aspect, soil texture and soil depth showed potential but generally performed poorly. Indices based on soil and topographic data did not have more predictive power than those based on topographic information only: this was attributed to the coarse resolution of the HOST classification. Nevertheless, analyses provided interesting insights into the scale-dependent water storage and transport mechanisms in both study catchments. Copyright (c) 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

AB - For lack of other widely available spatial information, topography is often used to predict water fluxes and water quality in mesoscale watersheds. Such data have however proven to be misleading in many environments where large and flat valley bottoms and/or highly conducive soil covers determine water storage and water transport mechanisms. Also, the focus is generally on the prediction of saturation areas regardless of whether they are connected to the catchment hydrographic network or rather present in isolated topographic depressions. Here soil information was coupled with terrain data towards the targeted prediction of connected saturated areas. The focus was on the 30km(2) Girnock catchment (Cairngorm Mountains, northeast Scotland) and its 3km(2) sub-catchment, Bruntland Burn in which seven field surveys were done to capture actual maps of connected saturated areas in both dry and humid conditions. The 1km(2) resolution UK Hydrology of Soil Types (HOST) classification was used to extract relevant, spatially variable, soil parameters. Results show that connected saturated areas were fairly well predicted by wetness indices but only in wet conditions when they covered more than 30% of the whole catchment area. Geomorphic indices including information on terrain shape, steepness, aspect, soil texture and soil depth showed potential but generally performed poorly. Indices based on soil and topographic data did not have more predictive power than those based on topographic information only: this was attributed to the coarse resolution of the HOST classification. Nevertheless, analyses provided interesting insights into the scale-dependent water storage and transport mechanisms in both study catchments. Copyright (c) 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

KW - wetness indices

KW - observed saturation areas

KW - connectivity

KW - stream network

KW - data resolution

KW - soil-moisture patterns

KW - spatial-distribution

KW - surface saturation

KW - field observations

KW - runoff generation

KW - water content

KW - catchment

KW - flow

KW - topography

KW - rainfall

U2 - 10.1002/esp.3506

DO - 10.1002/esp.3506

M3 - Article

VL - 39

SP - 399

EP - 413

JO - Earth Surface Processes and Landforms

JF - Earth Surface Processes and Landforms

SN - 0197-9337

IS - 3

ER -