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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Thresholds for runoff generation in ephemeral streams with varying morphology in the Sonoran Desert in Arizona, USA
by Faulconer, Joshua D., M.S., Colorado State University, 2015, 65; 1590565
Abstract (Summary)

In ephemeral streams, infrequent surface flow can be the main source of water that sustains plants throughout long dry periods. The objectives of this research are to: (1) explore seasonality of rainfall runoff in different channel types and (2) examine how runoff thresholds vary by channel type. The study area was two watersheds with areas of 188 km2 and 323 km2 on the Yuma Proving Grounds (YPG) in the Sonoran Desert near Yuma, Arizona. Eight tipping bucket rain gauges were installed to measure precipitation. Runoff was measured with 18 pressure transducers in five different channel types with different channel morphologies and contributing areas ranging from 0.002 km2 to 225 km2. Over approximately two years there were 11 to 48 rain events at the different rain gauges. Stream types with bedrock channels and small watershed areas between 0.005 km2 and 0.015 km2 produced runoff when the peak 60-minute precipitation intensity (I60) exceeded 4-6 mm hr -1. At these sites, 17-25 percent of the rain storms generated runoff. I60 values of 5-9 mm hr-1 produced runoff in streams with contributing areas of 0.021-0.061 km2 on mid-Pleistocene piedmont surfaces covered by desert pavement. At these sites, 31-36 percent of rain events produced runoff. Streams incised into bedrock with some alluvium fill produced runoff at larger I60's of 13-18 mm hr-1. Contributing areas for these sites were 0.8 km2 to 2.2 km2, and up to 10 percent of precipitation events at these sites produced flow. Precipitation thresholds for runoff generation in streams with contributing areas >3 km 2 were not clearly defined due to the influences of variable precipitation in upstream tributaries and transmission losses of streamflow through channel bed alluvium. For watersheds with <3km2, rain intensity thresholds increased with the log of catchment area, and as a result flow frequency tended to decrease with increasing catchment area.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Kampf, Stephanie
Commitee: MacDonald, Lee H., Ronayne, Michael J.
School: Colorado State University
Department: Ecosystem Science and Sustainability
School Location: United States -- Colorado
Source: MAI 54/05M(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Hydrologic sciences
Keywords: Ephemeral channel types, Ephemeral streams, Flow frequency, Runoff seasonality, Runoff thresholds, Transmission losses
Publication Number: 1590565
ISBN: 978-1-321-80089-0
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