Response of rock-fissure seepage to snowmelt in Mount Taihang slope-catchment, North China

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Courtesy of IWA Publishing

The complex physiographic and hydrogeological systems of mountain terrains facilitate intense rock-fissure seepages and multi-functional ecological interactions. As mountain eco-hydrological terrains are the common water sources of river basins across the globe, it is critical to build sufficient understanding into the hydrological processes in this unique ecosystem. This study analyzes infiltration and soil/rock-fissure seepage processes from a 65 mm snowfall/melt in November 2009 in the typical granitic gneiss slope catchment in the Taihang Mountains. The snowfall, snowmelt and melt-water processes are monitored using soil-water time-domain reflectometry (TDR) probes and tipping bucket flowmeters. The results suggest that snowmelt infiltration significantly influences soil/rock water seepage in the 0–100 cm soil depth of the slope-catchment. It is not only air temperature that influences snowmelt, but also snowmelt infiltration and rock-fissure seepage. Diurnal variations in rock-fissure seepage are in close correlation with air temperature (R2 > 0.7). Temperature also varies with soil/rock water viscosity, which element in turn influences soil/rock water flow. Invariably, water dynamics in the study area is not only a critical water supply element for domestic, industrial and agricultural uses, but also for food security and social stability.

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