High-frequency water quality time series in precipitation and streamflow: from fragmentary signals to scientific challenge

Neal, Colin; Reynolds, Brian; Rowland, Philip; Norris, David; Kirchner, James W.; Neal, Margaret; Sleep, Darren; Lawlor, Alan; Woods, Clive; Thacker, Sarah; Guyatt, Hayley; Vincent, Colin; Hockenhull, Kathryn; Wickham, Heather; Harman, Sarah; Armstrong, Linda. 2012 High-frequency water quality time series in precipitation and streamflow: from fragmentary signals to scientific challenge. Science of the Total Environment, 434. 3-12.

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Eighteen months of 7-hourly analyses of rainfall and stream water chemistry are presented, spanning a wide range of chemical determinands and building on over 20 years of weekly records for the moorland headwaters of the river Severn. The high-frequency time series data show that hydrochemical responses to major hydrological and biological drivers of short-term variability in rainfall and rivers are not captured by conventional low-frequency monitoring programmes. A wealth of flow related, flow independent, diurnal, seasonal and annual fluctuations indicate a cacophony of interactions within the catchment and stream. The complexity of the chemical dynamics is visually obvious, although there appears to be no clear way of translating this complexity into a simple algorithm. The work provides a proof of concept for the complex structure of catchment functioning revealed by extensive high-frequency measurements coupled with high analytical sensitivity and reproducibility. It provides new insights into hydrogeochemical functioning and a novel resource for catchment modelling.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Programmes: CEH Topics & Objectives 2009 - 2012 > Biogeochemistry > BGC Topic 1 - Monitoring and Interpretation of Biogeochemical and Climate Changes
CEH Topics & Objectives 2009 - 2012 > Water > WA Topic 1 - Variability and Change in Water Systems
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Acreman
UKCEH Fellows
ISSN: 0048-9697
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: This document is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Science of the Total Environment. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Science of the Total Environment, 434. 3-12. 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2011.10.072
Additional Keywords: stream water chemistry, Plynlimon, high resolution, fractal, complexity, rainwater chemistry
NORA Subject Terms: Earth Sciences
Date made live: 12 Oct 2012 14:49 +0 (UTC)

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