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Book: Field Soil Water Regime
Published by: Soil Science Society of America



  1.  p. 181-193
    SSSA Special Publication 5.
    Field Soil Water Regime

    R.R. Bruce (ed.)

    ISBN: 978-0-89118-900-8


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The Role of Soil Water in the Hydrologic Behavior of Upland Basins1

  1. Wade L. Nutter2


The distribution of soil water in upland basins greatly affects the extent of source areas and the response patterns of both storm and between-storm streamflow. Except during the most extreme storms, all the precipitation falling on well-vegetated slopes infiltrates and while some reappears in the channel as stormflow, a major portion of the rain remains in the basin as dynamic storage. During a storm, the stormflow source area expands out from the stream channel as slopes contribute primarily unsaturated subsurface flow and the channel system lengthens. After the storm ceases, source areas may continue to expand as subsurface flow feeds the lower slopes near the channel, often leading to a second hydrograph peak several hours or days after the rain ceases. As the channel system and source areas recede, unsaturated subsurface flow continues to sustain baseflow. Basin parameters that affect the soil water regime and associated soil water energy conditions, and therefore the distribution of source areas, are slope length from channel to ridge, angle of slope, regolith depth, and regolith physical properties. Physical models of hillslope segments have provided some insight into the interrelations among the basin parameters as well as the flow pathways and source areas of subsurface flow.

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Copyright © 1973. Copyright © 1973 by the Soil Science Society of America, Inc., 5585 Guilford Rd., Madison, WI 53711 USA