The effects of juniper removal on rainfall partitioning in the Edwards Aquifer region: large-scale rainfall simulation experiments
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Two experimental rainfall simulation plots in the Edwards Aquifer region of Texas were established to measure the effects of brush clearing on surface and subsurface water movement pathways. Multi-stage rainfall simulations were carried out at a site with Juniperus ashei (ashe juniper) cover both before and after brush removal, with three replications of a particular rainfall event for each vegetation condition. Similar simulations were carried out on a plot with a longstanding grass cover. Both plots included trenches at their downhill ends for observation of shallow lateral subsurface flow. Canopy interception was found to represent a major water loss, with interception of 32.7 mm for an average 166 mm, 5.25 hr rainfall event. Brush clearing had little impact on surface runoff, with no overland flow occurring at the juniper plot for either vegetation condition, while 31.9 percent of applied rainfall moved as overland flow at the grass plot. This difference was attributed to differences in the structure and permeability of the epikarst. Brush removal caused significant (90 percent confidence level) reduction in shallow lateral subsurface flow into the trench after brush removal, with 56.7 percent of water reaching the surface entering the trench for the pre-cut condition and only 43.4 percent for the post-cut condition. However, subsurface water movement through other pathways increased from 31.0 to 54.1 percent after brush removal. This additional water, due to removal of canopy interception, could either move off-site through conduit and fracture flow or remain on site as storage in conduits, unconsolidated caliche/marl layers, or in soil pockets. Two tracer tests with fluorescent dyes were also conducted using simulated rainfall to assess discrete flow paths discharging into the trench at the downhill end of the juniper plot. Analysis of samples from sixteen outlet locations revealed that not all areas of the plot were connected hydraulically to the trench. Additionally, subsurface flow paths were found to have a high degree of interconnection, linking conduit flow outlets with multiple inlet locations on the plot surface. Conduits showed strong connection with an area surrounding juniper vegetation, with rapid water flow (up to 2.4 m/h) from this area.
Taucer, Philip Isaiah (2003). The effects of juniper removal on rainfall partitioning in the Edwards Aquifer region: large-scale rainfall simulation experiments. Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Texas A&M University. Available electronically from