VeWa Experimental Sites

The VeWa project focuses on six experimental high-latitude headwater sites: Bruntland Burn, Dorset, Dry Creek, Krycklan, Moss Creek, and Wolf Creek. This range of sites allows us to look at how differences in vegetation type affect water storage, transmission and release.

The Bruntland Burn (BB) catchment (3.2 km²) is located in NE Scotland, United Kingdom. The catchment is representative of many upland catchments in the UK. Mean annual precipitation is approximately 1100 mm and snow is <10%. Annual runoff is about 600 mm. The Bruntland Burn shows water replenishment evenly distributed throughout the year. Most precipitation falls in low-intensity frontal events, with 50% falling in events <10 mm and 75% in events of <20 mm. The catchment is granite-dominated with associated metamorphic rocks and has been glaciated, with a wide flat valley bottom at around 250 m above sea level (asl), increasing in gradient to steeper slopes up to around 550 m asl. Land cover is dominated by heather moorland, peat bogs, and an area of commercial forestry on the steeper hillslopes near the catchment outlet. In the flat riparian zones, the water table is close to, or above, the ground surface.

Reference: Tetzlaff, D., Birkel, C., Dick, J., Geris, J. & Soulsby, C. (2014). 'Storage dynamics in hydropedological units control hillslope connectivity, runoff generation, and the evolution of catchment transit time distributions'. Water Resources Research, 50, 2, 969-985. DOI:10.1002/2013WR014147

The Harp Lake catchment (HP4, 1.2 km²) is located near Dorset (Dor) in Ontario, Canada. The catchment has a humid continental climate and long cool summers. Annual precipitation is 980 mm of which about 30% falls as snow. Mean annual runoff is approximately 520 mm. Elevation within the catchment ranges from 329 m to 420 m asl.  Bedrock is predominantly granitized biotite and hornblende gneiss and surficial geology ranges from bedrock outcrops, thin (<1-m thick) till interrupted by rock ridges, to minor till plains. Vegetation consists of mixed deciduous-conifer forest of primarily sugar maple and birch on the dry uplands and a coniferous forest (white cedar, hemlock and balsam fir) in low-lying wetland areas.

Reference: Buttle, J. M., & Eimers, M. C. (2009). Scaling and physiographic controls on streamflow behaviour on the Precambrian Shield, south-central Ontario. Journal of Hydrology, 374(3), 360-372. DOI:10.1016/j.jhydrol.2009.06.036

The Dry Creek (DC) watershed (28 km²) is located in Idaho, United States. It is the warmest of the VeWa sites with moderately-cold to cold winters and typically hot and dry summers with occasional thunderstorm events. Elevation in the catchment ranges from 1033 m to 2136 m asl. Annual precipitation ranges from 300 mm in the lowlands to 900 mm in the uplands, with a spatial average of approximately 650 mm. Most precipitation falls in the winter months as snow in the uplands and rain in the lowlands. The dominant rock unit in the catchment is biotite granodiorite. The landscape in the area is typified by moderately steep slopes, and strongly dissected by streams. Vegetation is predominantly sagebrush, bitterbrush, mixed grasses, and a variety of riparian vegetation at lower elevations. Higher elevations contain forested areas composed mostly of Douglas Fir and Ponderosa Pine.

Reference: McNamara, J. P., Chandler, D., Seyfried, M. & Achet, S. (2005), Soil moisture states, lateral flow, and streamflow generation in a semi-arid, snowmelt-driven catchment. Hydrological Processes, 19: 4023–4038. DOI: 10.1002/hyp.5869

The Krycklan (Kr) catchments are found in Northern Sweden, the Svartberget catchment (0.5 km²) is located in
the upper parts. Precipitation is around 650 mm, of which 40% falls as snow. Annual mean runoff is around 311 mm. Krycklan shows strong seasonality with most water replenishment occurring in spring but also some in wet autumns. The catchment ranges in elevation from 234 to 306 m asl. The geology is dominated by meta-sediments; soils are mainly podzols. Coniferous forests predominate, although large Sphagnum-dominated wetlands cover up to 40% of some of the sub-catchments.

Reference: Laudon, H., Taberman, I., Ågren, A., Futter, M., Ottosson-Löfvenius, M. & Bishop K. (2013), The Krycklan Catchment Study—A flagship infrastructure for hydrology, biogeochemistry, and climate research in the boreal landscape, Water Resources Research, 49, 7154-7158. DOI:10.1002/wrcr.20520

Moss Creek (9.3 km²) is a tributary within the Baker Creek Research Basin (155 km2) in Canada’s Northwest Territories. Moss Creek is dominated by lakes connected by short channels that cover 21% of the basin area. Exposed Precambrian bedrock is widespread (39%) and is comprised of volcanic and sedimentary rocks intruded by Archean batholiths and plutons. The predominant vegetation type is open black spruce forest that occupies 25% of the basin. Bogs, fens and peat plateaus are all present as wetlands cover 15% of the basin. The mean elevation is 230 masl. The average annual precipitation is 289 mm (42% as snow) and mean annual streamflow of Baker Creek is 52 mm, providing an annual runoff ratio of 0.18. The mean annual air temperature is -4.3°C. The basin is in the zone of discontinuous permafrost, and soils are either podzols or organic cryosols.

Reference: Spence, C., X.J. Guan, R. Phillips, N. Hedstrom, R. Granger and R. Reid, 2010.  “Storage Dynamics and Streamflow in a Catchment with a Variable Contributing Area”, Hydrological Processes 24: 2209–2221. DOI: 10.1002/hyp.7492

Granger Creek (7.6 km²) is located in the Wolf Creek (WC) Research Basin in Yukon Territory, Canada. Wolf Creek shows the strongest seasonality as the climate is continental subarctic with replenishment occurring in late spring. Mean annual precipitation for Granger Creek is 478 mm (40% as snow), annual runoff is about 352 mm. Mean elevation of the catchment is 1700 m asl. The geological composition is primarily sedimentary, and a till mantle with thickness from centimetres to 10 m. Atop the till, soils are capped with a surface organic layer at lower elevations ranging from 0.05 to 0.3 m. Permafrost (perennially frozen ground) underlies around 70% of the catchment. Granger Creek is above treeline with shrub taiga at lower elevations comprised predominantly of willow and birch vegetation with alpine tundra at higher elevation.

Reference: McCartney, S. E., Carey, S. K. & Pomeroy, J. W. (2006), Intra-basin variability of snowmelt water balance calculations in a subarctic catchment. Hydrological Processes, 20: 1001–1016. DOI: 10.1002/hyp.6125

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