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Comparative analysis of the response of various land covers to an exceptional rainfall event in the central Spanish Pyrenees, October 2012

AuthorsLana-Renault, Noemí ; Nadal-Romero, Estela ; Serrano Muela, M. P. ; Alvera, Bernardo ; Sánchez Navarrete, Pedro; Sanjuán, Yasmina ; García-Ruiz, José María
Keywordshydrological response
vegetation cover
experimental catchments
exceptional event
Issue Date2014
CitationEarth Surface Processes and Landforms 39(5): 581- 592 (2014)
AbstractThe hydrological and geomorphological effects of an exceptional rainstorm event that occurred in the central Spanish Pyrenees during 19-21 October 2012 were studied in five experimental catchments under various land covers: (i) subhumid badlands; (ii) dense forest; (iii) an abandoned farmland area recolonized by shrubs and forest patches; and (iv) subalpine grasslands. Hydrographs and sedigraphs demonstrated that vegetation cover is a major factor affecting the control of floods even during exceptional rainstorms, at least at the spatial scale at which the phenomenon was studied (catchment sizes: 0.3-2.8 km2) and under dry catchment conditions. The combined precipitation over the two days (c. 250 mm) was the greatest for any two-day event recorded since 1950 in the central-western Pyrenees for all but one of the stations in the study. Five pulses of most intense rainfall were recorded. The forested catchment did not react to the two most intense rainfall pulses, because of the very low antecedent level of the water table. The main peak flow occurred only when at least a part of the catchment was saturated. The abandoned farmland catchment had two small peak discharges at the beginning of the event, which were produced by infiltration excess overland flow from eroded areas close to the main stream. During the third most intense rainfall period a large part of this catchment contributed to runoff and a relatively high peak discharge was produced. The badland catchment reacted immediately from the beginning of the rainstorm, yielding very high discharges accompanied by high suspended sediment concentrations. The subalpine catchment showed a hydrograph mirroring the hyetograph, with brief but intense hydrological responses to increased precipitation, because of the marked gradients and the presence of bare rock in the headwaters. A high volume of bedload was carried during the peak discharge. © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Publisher version (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/esp.3465
Identifiersdoi: 10.1002/esp.3465
issn: 1096-9837
e-issn: 1096-9837
Appears in Collections:(IPE) Artículos
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