Changes in measured spatiotemporal patterns of hydrological response after partial deforestation in a headwater catchment

I. Wiekenkamp, J. A. Huisman, H. R. Bogena, A. Graf, H. S. Lin, C. Drüe, H. Vereecken

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Although the hydrological effects of land use change have been studied extensively, only few datasets are available to accurately describe, model, and predict detailed changes in spatiotemporal patterns of hydrological fluxes and states due to land use change. The Wüstebach catchment within the TERENO (TERrestrial Environmental Observatories) network in Germany provides a unique monitoring setup to measure the major components of the water balance (evapotranspiration, discharge, precipitation) and the spatiotemporal distribution of soil moisture before and after a partial deforestation. Here, we present five years of measured hydrological data, including all major water budget components three years before and two years after a partial deforestation. A data-driven approach was used to understand changes and related feedback mechanisms in spatiotemporal hydrological response patterns. As expected from earlier studies, the partial deforestation caused a decrease in evapotranspiration and an increase in discharge. A closer look at the high resolution datasets revealed new insights in the intra-annual variability and relationship between the water balance components. The overall decrease in evapotranspiration caused a large increase in soil water storage in the deforested region, especially during the summer period, which in turn caused an increase in the frequency of high discharge in the same period. Although the evapotranspiration in the forested region was larger on average, the deforested region showed a higher evapotranspiration during part of the summer period. This could be related to wetter conditions in the deforested area, accompanied with the emergence of grass vegetation. At the same time, wetter soil moisture conditions in the deforested area increased the spatial variance of soil moisture in the summer and therewith altered the relationship between spatial mean and variance. Altogether, this study illustrates that detailed spatiotemporal monitoring can provide new insights into the hydrological effects of partial deforestation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)648-661
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Hydrology
StatePublished - Nov 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Water Science and Technology


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