Water travel distances were calculated based on the ratio of the permeability of the soil and the impeding layer, slope, and the thickness of the saturated layer. A larger permeability contrast leads to longer travel distances, as indicated by the size of the arrows. Credit: Klaus and Jackson, 2018, Figure 2
Source: Water Resources Research

Klaus and Jackson [2018] challenge long-held ideas about the path of subsurface water from hillslopes to streams and clearly show that, for most hillslopes in the world, travel distances are shorter than the total hillslope length and that water will infiltrate into the impeding layer before reaching the stream. This means that continuous saturated areas do not indicate that the entire area is directly connected to the stream via subsurface stormflow. This finding has significant implications for how we conceptualize runoff processes and represent them in numerical models to simulate water and solute transport from hillslopes to the stream.

Citation: Klaus, J., & Jackson, C. R. [2018]. Interflow is not binary: A continuous shallow perched layer does not imply continuous connectivity. Water Resources Research, 54. https://doi.org/10.1029/2018WR022920

—Ilja van Meerveld, Editor, Water Resources Research

Text © 2018. The authors. CC BY-NC-ND 3.0
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