Geomorphic controls on riparian zone hydrology, carbon pools and fluxes of dissolved organic carbon
Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Near stream (riparian) zones are an important link between terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems and influence a wide range of processes including solute transport or hydrologic behavior of headwater catchments. Understanding the links between geomorphology and riparian soils, vegetation and hydrology is, thus, a prerequisite for relating small scale processes to observations at the watershed scale. Geographic information systems (GIS) have traditionally been used to study links between geomorphology and properties of terrestrial ecosystems. Applying this approach to riparian zones, however, has only recently become feasible with the availability of high-resolution digital elevation models and the new development of suitable computational methods. In this study we present links between geomorphology and riparian zone hydrology, carbon pools and fluxes of dissolved organic carbon. Geomorphometric attributes were successfully used to predict (1) riparian groundwater levels and flow pathways, (2) the size of riparian soil carbon pools, (3) the vertical variation of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) in riparian soil profiles, as well as (4) riparian carbon fluxes and turnover times.