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vol.62 issue2Identification of hydropedological flowpaths in Stevenson-Hamilton catena from soil morphological, chemical and hydraulic propertiesHydrological response in a savanna hillslope under different rainfall regimes author indexsubject indexarticles search
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On-line version ISSN 2071-0771
Print version ISSN 0075-6458


RIDDELL, Edward S. et al. Groundwater-surface water interactions in an ephemeral savanna catchment, Kruger National Park. Koedoe [online]. 2020, vol.62, n.2, pp.1-14. ISSN 2071-0771.

The semi-arid conditions in savanna landscapes ensure that ephemeral drainage dominates the hydrological network in these dryland systems. Quantification of their hydrological processes is important to inform ecosystem understanding and future conservation efforts under a changing climate, and to provide guidance for restoration. By combining in situ hydrometric observations, hydrochemistry, remote sensing and a soil water balance model, we characterise the groundwater-surface water interactions in ephemeral low-order catchments of the granitoid regions of the southern Kruger National Park (KNP). Streams at the lowest orders are augmented by lateral interflows from the catena, although the second- and third-order stream reaches are conduits for groundwater recharge to the fractured rock aquifer; the soils of the crests and foot-slopes also show preferential flow, and are truly recharge soils, whilst the duplex soils of the midslopes clearly show their responsive nature to a low soil moisture deficit in the shallow horizons. Actual evaporation (aET) differed between catena elements with surprisingly little variation at third-order hillslopes, with the greatest overall aET at the first order. Meanwhile, soil water balances demonstrated a significant variation in storage of the riparian zones as a result of interflow from upslope and aET losses. Furthermore, data support broader-scale observations that groundwater recharge through the vadose zone to the fractured rock aquifer is dependent upon threshold antecedent precipitation conditions. Moderate precipitation events (5 mm/day - 35 mm/day) over a 2-3 week period initiate groundwater responses with a 2-3 month lag, whilst intense precipitation events (>100 mm/day) are expressed within 2-3 weeks.CONSERVATION IMPLICATIONS: Understanding the lateral connectivity of terrestrial ecosystems to the ephemeral drainage network expressed via hydrological processes in these savanna landscapes is important to infer potential impacts of climate variability on the continued conservation of these ecosystems, both within and external to protected areas

Keywords : Flow processes; Groundwater recharge; Actual evapotranspiration; Ephemeral; Granitic catchments; Savannas.

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