Water table variability and runoff generation in an eroded peatland, South Pennines, UK

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Abstract

Hydrological monitoring in an eroded South Pennine peatland shows that persistent and frequent water table drawdowns occur at gully edge locations, defining a deeper and thicker acrotelm than is observed in intact peatlands (an erosional acrotelm). Antecedent water table elevation is a key control on the hydrological response to precipitation events, in particular runoff percent, the timing of peak discharges and maximum water table elevations. Significant discharge is generated whilst water table elevations are relatively low at gully edge locations, and this has a strong influence on flow pathways. Four characteristics of runoff response are recognised: (i) the rapid development of macropore/pipe flow at the start of the storm; (ii) peat rewetting, water table elevation increase and continued macropore/pipe flow; (iii) maximum water table elevations and peak stream discharge with throughflow occurring within the erosional acrotelm and rapid flow through the subsurface macropore/pipe network; (iv) rapidly declining water table elevations and stream flow following the cessation of rainfall. Gully edge peats provide a key linkage between the hillslope hydrological system and channel flow so that their influence on the hydrological functioning of the peatlands is disproportionate to their aerial extent within the catchment. Future climate change may lead to further degradation of the bogs and a reinforcement of the importance of erosion gullies to runoff generation and water quality. © 2008 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)214-226
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Hydrology
Volume361
Issue number1-2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 30 Oct 2008

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