Water table depth is known to play an important role in nitrogen cycling in riparian zones, but little detailed monitoring of water table fluctuations has been reported. In this study, results of high-resolution water table monitoring under three common riparian land covers (forest, cool season grass, corn) were analysed to gain a better understanding of the relation of vegetation cover to water table depth. Three riparian wells located at the Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge in Jasper County, Iowa, were instrumented with data loggers to record hourly water table behaviour from July to December 2004. Water table depth under the forest showed a diurnal pattern of rising and falling water levels, whereas the grass and corn exhibited a stepped pattern of greater drawdown during the day and less drainage at night. Clear daytime and night-time water table signals were related to daily plant water demands and lateral groundwater flow. Using two estimates of specific yield, hourly and daily ET rates were estimated to be higher under the forest cover than the grass and corn, with peak ET rates in July ranging from 5.02 to 6.32 mm day-1 for forest and from 1.81 to 4.13 mm day-1 for corn and grass. Following plant senescence in October, water table declines were associated with lateral flow to Walnut Creek. The results from this study suggest that consideration should be given to monitoring water table behaviour more frequently to capture daily and seasonal patterns related to riparian vegetation type. Copyright ?? 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
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Water table fluctuations under three riparian land covers, Iowa (USA)