Revisiting Michael Bonell’s work on humid tropical rainforest catchments: isotope tracers reveal seasonal shifts in catchment hydrology

Lim, H.S, Munksgaard, N., and Bird, M.I. (2022) Revisiting Michael Bonell’s work on humid tropical rainforest catchments: isotope tracers reveal seasonal shifts in catchment hydrology. Hydrological Processes. (In Press)

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It has been almost 50 years since the foundational work at the Babinda catchments in North Queensland kickstarted the field of tropical hydrology globally. To expand upon this work and build a more generalized hydrological understanding of steep rainforest catchments, we studied the seasonal evolution of hydrological response from two catchments with broadly similar characteristics to the Babinda catchments. Both hydrometric and water stable isotope data were collected at relatively high frequencies during one wet season (Thompson Creek) and a three-year period (Atika Creek). The longer dataset spans a wide range of environmental conditions experienced in the humid tropics, including events that cover the wetting-up transitional period of the wet season and tropical cyclones (TC).

Both catchments displayed a fast streamflow response to rainfall with the shallow upper soil profile responding quickly to rainfall at Atika Creek. New findings from this study include the importance of pre-event water (>50% using the two component hydrograph separation technique) for overall event flows, especially when the catchment was wet. Rainfall, surface runoff and groundwater isotope and specific electrical conductivity (SEC) compositions varied between rainfall events with the most complex bivariate mixing plots observed for multi-peak events that occurred at the start of the wet season and after a dry period within the wet season. Two-tracer, 3 component hydrograph separations did not provide satisfactory results in identifying source water contributions to streamflow. These results highlighted the time-variant and non-conservative behaviour of the rainfall, surface runoff and shallow groundwater source waters over the seasonal timescale, with soil water being an important unidentified source contributor. Our findings highlight the need for high frequency multi-source sampling to accurately interpret catchment behavior and the importance of soil water contributions to streamflow. We propose a framework to describe the seasonal evolution of streamflow response in steep tropical rainforest catchments experiencing seasonal rainfall activity.

Item ID: 76268
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1099-1085
Copyright Information: This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Date Deposited: 11 Oct 2022 03:59
FoR Codes: 41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4199 Other environmental sciences > 419999 Other environmental sciences not elsewhere classified @ 100%
SEO Codes: 18 ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT > 1803 Fresh, ground and surface water systems and management > 180301 Assessment and management of freshwater ecosystems @ 100%
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