What have we learnt about Mediterranean catchment hydrology? 30 years observing hydrological processes in the Vallcebre Research Catchments

P. Llorens, F. Gallart, C. Cayuela, M. Roig-Planasdemunt, E. Casellas, A.J. Molina, M. Moreno de las Heras, G. Bertran, E. Sánchez-Costa, J. Latron


This paper presents the main results obtained from the study of hydrological processes in the Vallcebre Research Catchments since 1988. Distributed hydrometric measurements, environmental tracers and hydrological modelling were used to understand Mediterranean catchment behaviour and to provide new data to help assess the global change effects on these catchments' water resources. Thirty years of hydrological processes observation in the Vallcebre Research Catchments have increased understanding not only of their hydrological response, but also of the main hydrological and erosion processes characteristic of Mediterranean mountain catchments. This paper briefly summarises the main results obtained since 1988 on ecohydrological processes, hydrological response, runoff generation processes, erosion and sediment transport. Some of the main findings from this research are (i) the importance of temporal variability in precipitation to determine the hydrological processes; (ii) the paramount role played by forest cover in reducing soil water content; (iii) the marked influence of antecedent wetness conditions on runoff generation that determine different runoff responses; (v) the dominant contribution of pre-existing water during floods; (vi) the importance of freezing-thawing processes in badland areas on erosion and the role of summer convective storms in controlling sediment transport.


Hydrological processes; environmental tracers; Vallcebre research catchments; Mediterranean mountain area

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.18172/cig.3432


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