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Topographic shape is a watershed attribute thought to influence the flow path followed by water as it traverses a catchment. Flow path, in turn, may affect the chemical composition of surface waters. Topography is quantified in the hydrological model TOPMODEL as the relative frequency distribution of the index ln( a tanB), where a is the upslope area per unit contour that drains past a point and tanB is the local surface slope. Spatial distributions of ln( a tanB) were calculated for eight catchments in Wales on a 25 m ?? 25 m grid. Among the catchments, mean observed stream H+ concentration during high flow periods was highly correlated with the mean of the ln( a tanB) distribution. The steady-state gain of a transfer function (time series) model relating H+ to discharge was positively correlated with the mean of the ln( a tanB) distribution. These results suggest that during high flow periods, both the average stream acidity and the magnitude of fluctuations in H+ are conditioned by the topographic shape of the catchment. By performing a sensitivity analysis on TOPMODEL, we also show that as the mean of the ln( a tanB) distribution for a catchment increases, so does its theoretical likelihood to produce significant quantities of surface and near-surface runoff. Our observed results in the Llyn Brianne catchments are consistent with this theoretical expectation in that surface or near-surface runoff is often higher in acidity than are deeper sources of hillslope runoff. ?? 1990.
Additional Publication Details
Topographic effects on flow path and surface water chemistry of the Llyn Brianne catchments in Wales