Analyzing peatland discharge to streams in an Alaskan watershed: An integration of end-member mixing analysis and a water balance approach

Michael B. Gracz, Mary F. Moffett, Donald I. Siegel, Paul H. Glaser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Scopus citations

Abstract

Peatlands are the dominant landscape element in many northern watersheds where they can have an important influence on the hydrology of streams. However, the capacity of peatlands to moderate stream flow during critical dry periods remains uncertain partly due to the difficulty of estimating discharge from extensive peat deposits. We therefore used two different approaches to quantify diffuse pore water contributions from peatlands to a creek within a small watershed in Southcentral Alaska. A sensitivity analysis of a water budget for a representative peatland within this watershed showed that a substantial surplus of pore water may remain available for subsequent discharge during a dry period after accounting for water losses to evapotranspiration. These findings were supported by end member mixing analysis (EMMA), which indicated that 55% of the stream flow during a dry period originated from the near-surface layers of peatlands within the watershed. Contributions from peatlands to stream flow in northern coastal regions may therefore provide an important buffer against the potentially harmful effects of changing climatic conditions on commercially important fish species.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)667-676
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Hydrology
Volume530
DOIs
StatePublished - 2015

Keywords

  • EMMA
  • Evapotranspiration
  • Peatlands
  • Stream flow

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology

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