Spatial and temporal runoff response to snowmelt, and the influence of geomorphology in a headwater catchment, central eastern Cascades, Washington Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/defaults/fn1073982

Graduation date: 2007

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  • This report presents a nested gauging study of streamflow variability from three sub-catchments (150-200 ha in area) of the Burns Creek catchment (565 ha) in the Entiat Experimental Forest of central Washington State. We test and reject the hypothesis that headwater catchments of this size are composed of physically and chemically homogenous sub-catchments with regard to the volume and timing of runoff generation. Our methods included sub-catchment distributed accounting of precipitation and snowmelt, nested gauging of flow, and electrical conductance measurement (EC) for water years 2005 and 2006. Our results showed that temporal and spatial contributions to streamflow varied widely among the sub-catchments. Over 50% of annual precipitation accumulated within the headwaters of the catchment, yet the highest elevation subcatchment dominated streamflow only during the immediate melt season. Baseflow was otherwise maintained by discharge from the lowest elevation sub-catchment. Flow and EC data suggested groundwater dominated streamflow response to rainfall and snowmelt. Over 90% of stormflow in each of the monitored sub-catchments was comprised of preevent water using the standard two-component hydrograph separation method. Annual runoff ratios and pre-event water contributions to streamflow increased with increasing basin area. Runoff ratios from the three sub-catchments and the headwater catchment as a whole were more uniform over the much wetter 2006 water year
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