Canadian Forest Service Publications

Paired-basin comparison of hydrological response in harvested and undisturbed hardwood forests during snowmelt in central Ontario: I. Streamflow, groundwater and flowpath behaviour. 2006. Monteith, S.S.; Buttle, J.M.; Hazlett, P.W.; Beall, F.D.; Semkin, R.G.; Jeffries, D.S. Hydrological Processes 20: 1095-1116.

Year: 2006

Issued by: Great Lakes Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 28182

Language: English

Availability: PDF (request by e-mail)

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Impacts of forest harvesting on groundwater properties, water flowpaths and streamflow response were examined 4 years after the harvest using a paired-basin approach during the 2001 snowmelt in a northern hardwood landscape in central Ontario. The ability of two metrics of basin topography (Beven and Kirkby’s ln(a/tan b) topographic index (TI) and distance to stream channel) to explain intra-basin variations in groundwater dynamics was also evaluated. Significant relationships between TI and depth to potentiometric surface for shallow groundwater emerged, although the occurrence of these relationships during the melt differed between harvested and control basins, possibly as a result of interbasin differences in upslope area contributing to piezometers used to monitor groundwater behaviour. Transmissivity feedback (rapid streamflow increases as the water table approaches the soil surface) governed streamflow generation in both basins, and the mean threshold depths at which rapid streamflow increases corresponded to small rises in water level were similar for harvested (0.41 +/- 0.05 m) and forested (0.38 +/- 0.04 m) basins. However, topographic properties provided inconsistent explanations of spatial variations in the relationship between streamflow and depth to water at a given piezometer for both basins. Streamflow from the harvested basin exceeded that from the forested basin during the 2001 melt, and hydrometric and geochemical tracer results indicated greater runoff from the harvested basin via surface and near-surface pathways. These differences are not solely attributable to harvesting, since the difference in spring runoff from the harvested basin relative to the forested control was not consistently larger than under pre-harvest conditions. Nevertheless, greater melt rates following harvesting appear to have increased the proportion of water delivery to the stream channel via surface and near-surface pathways.