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Dry-season length and runoff control annual variability in stream DOC dynamics in a small, shallowgroundwater-dominated agricultural watershed

Abstract : As a phenomenon integrating climate conditions and hydrological control of the connection between streams and terrestrial dissolved organic carbon (DOC) sources, groundwater dynamics control patterns of stream DOC characteristics (concentrations and fluxes). Influence of intra-annual variations in groundwater level, discharge and climatic factors on DOC concentrations and fluxes were assessed over 13 years at the headwater watershed of Kervidy-Naizin (5 km²) in western France. Four seasonal periods were delineated within each year according to groundwater fluctuations (A: rewetting, B: high flow, C: recession, and D: drought). Annual and seasonal base flow vs stormflow DOC concentrations were defined based on daily hydrograph readings. High inter-annual variability of annual DOC fluxes (5.4-39.5 kg.ha-1.yr-1) indicates that several years of data are required to encompass variations in water flux to evaluate the actual DOC export capacity of a watershed. Inter-annual variability of mean annual DOC concentrations was much lower (4.9-7.5 mg C.l-1), with concentrations decreasing within each year from ca. 9.2 mg C.l-1 in A to ca. 3.0 mg C.l-1 in C. This indicates an intra-annual pattern of stream DOC concentrations controlled by DOC source characteristics and groundwater dynamics very similar across years. Partial least square regressions combined with multiple linear regressions showed that the dry season characteristics (length and drawdown) determine the mean annual DOC concentration while annual runoff determines the annual flux. Antagonistic mechanisms of production-accumulation and dilution depletion combined with an unlimited DOC supply from riparian wetland soils can mitigate the response of stream concentrations to global changes and climatic variations.
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Guillaume Humbert, Anne Jaffrézic, Ophélie Fovet, Gérard Gruau, Patrick Durand. Dry-season length and runoff control annual variability in stream DOC dynamics in a small, shallowgroundwater-dominated agricultural watershed. Water Resources Research, American Geophysical Union, 2015, 51 (10), pp.7860-7877. ⟨10.1002/2015WR017336⟩. ⟨insu-01201852v2⟩

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