Differentiating transpiration from evaporation in seasonal agricultural wetlands and the link to advective fluxes in the root zone

Science of the Total Environment
RWQCB
By: , and 

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Abstract

The current state of science and engineering related to analyzing wetlands overlooks the importance of transpiration and risks data misinterpretation. In response, we developed hydrologic and mass budgets for agricultural wetlands using electrical conductivity (EC) as a natural conservative tracer. We developed simple differential equations that quantify evaporation and transpiration rates using flowrates and tracer concentrations atwetland inflows and outflows. We used two ideal reactormodel solutions, a continuous flowstirred tank reactor (CFSTR) and a plug flow reactor (PFR), to bracket real non-ideal systems. From those models, estimated transpiration ranged from 55% (CFSTR) to 74% (PFR) of total evapotranspiration (ET) rates, consistent with published values using standard methods and direct measurements. The PFR model more appropriately represents these nonideal agricultural wetlands in which check ponds are in series. Using a fluxmodel, we also developed an equation delineating the root zone depth at which diffusive dominated fluxes transition to advective dominated fluxes. This relationship is similar to the Peclet number that identifies the dominance of advective or diffusive fluxes in surface and groundwater transport. Using diffusion coefficients for inorganic mercury (Hg) and methylmercury (MeHg) we calculated that during high ET periods typical of summer, advective fluxes dominate root zone transport except in the top millimeters below the sediment–water interface. The transition depth has diel and seasonal trends, tracking those of ET. Neglecting this pathway has profound implications: misallocating loads along different hydrologic pathways; misinterpreting seasonal and diel water quality trends; confounding Fick's First Law calculations when determining diffusion fluxes using pore water concentration data; and misinterpreting biogeochemicalmechanisms affecting dissolved constituent cycling in the root zone. In addition,our understanding of internal root zone cycling of Hg and other dissolved constituents, benthic fluxes, and biological irrigation may be greatly affected.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Differentiating transpiration from evaporation in seasonal agricultural wetlands and the link to advective fluxes in the root zone
Series title Science of the Total Environment
DOI 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2013.11.026
Volume 484
Year Published 2014
Language English
Publisher Elsevier Pub. Co.
Publisher location Amsterdam
Contributing office(s) California Water Science Center
Description 17 p.
First page 232
Last page 248
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
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