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Unsaturated water flux at mid and lower slope positions within an inclined landscape of the dark brown soil zone in southern alberta

Miller, J.J., Chanasyk, D.S. (2015). Unsaturated water flux at mid and lower slope positions within an inclined landscape of the dark brown soil zone in southern alberta, 95(1), 27-36. http://dx.doi.org/10.4141/CJSS-2014-058

Abstract

©, 2015 Agricultural Institute of Canada, All rights reserved. Little research has quantified vertical-unsaturated water flux below the root zone for mid and lower slope positions within inclined, low-relief, and longer-slope landscapes of the Dark Brown soil zone of the Canadian prairies. We measured soil moisture (0.23-1.22 m) in the field at mid and lower slope positions in southern Alberta from May to October in 1985 and 1986. Undisturbed soil cores were taken from soil horizons and saturated hydraulic conductivity and soil moisture retention were determined in the laboratory. Verticalunsaturated water flux below the root zone was calculated between 1.07 and 1.22 m depths below ground surface using the hydraulic gradient method. Water fluxes for the 2 yr ranged from B10-11 to 10-10 m s-1 at the mid slope position, and from B10-11 m s-1 to 10-9 m s-1 at the lower slope position, and were consistent with some other studies. Cumulative water flux was dominantly downward (-2.2 to -3.4 mm) at the mid slope position and this flow direction was consistent with this Orthic Dark Brown Chernozemic soil that was located in a ‘‘recharge area’’. Cumulative water flux was dominantly upward at the lower slope position in 1985 (1.4 mm) and dominantly downward but of very low magnitude in 1986 (-0.1 mm), and this flow direction was consistent with this saline Gleyed Regosol and ‘‘saline seep’’. Cumulative water fluxes as a percentage of annual precipitation were 0.8 to 1.8% at the mid slope position and 0.3 to 0.5% at the lower slope position.

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