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Shear flows accelerate mixing dynamics in hyporheic zones and hillslopes

Abstract : Topographic relief and river bed forms generate nested streamline patterns, which drive the propagation and mixing at depth of changes in surface water concentration or temperature. While concentration distribution and biogeochemical reactions in such flow cells are often studied under steady state transport conditions, there is increasing evidence that transient mixing processes may have a significant contribution to effective mixing and reaction rates. Here we show that these streamline patterns act as shear flows, which significantly accelerate mixing dynamics within flow cells and can lead to the formation of transient mixing hot spots at depth. We provide analytical solutions that quantify the dynamics of mixing in a flow cell for a pulse and a front initial solute distribution, which represent two idealized end‐members of more complex solute distributions in natural systems. These results provide new insights into the patterns and dynamics of mixing at hyporheic zone, hillslope, and catchment scales.
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Aditya Bandopadhyay, Philippe Davy, Tanguy Le Borgne. Shear flows accelerate mixing dynamics in hyporheic zones and hillslopes. Geophysical Research Letters, American Geophysical Union, 2018, 45 (21), pp.11659-11668. ⟨10.1029/2018GL079914⟩. ⟨insu-01901766⟩

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