A quantitative understanding of the interplay between the different components of the hydrologic cycle at the watershed scale can be gained from analyzing high-frequency hydrologic time series. High-frequency measurements of precipitation, soil water content, shallow groundwater, and streamflow were collected and analyzed in Otter Creek, a 122 km2 watershed located in Northeast Iowa, USA. For selected rainfall events occurring in 2014, it was found that there is at least 4 h of delay between soil water content and water table time series response and streamflow peak. This is true even when the water table was approximately 6.5 m below the ground surface before rainfall started. Data reveal a strong linear dependence between the soil water content and the water table, which suggests the existence of a capillary fringe that extends approximately 2.5 m above the water table. The highest streamflow values in Otter Creek occurred when both the water table was close to the ground surface and the near surface soil (top 65 cm) was close to full saturation. Analyses show that, in the study area, data on depth to water table or deep soil water content have the potential to play a key role in the development of a flood warning system. The transformation of rainfall into streamflow is a complex process that we simplified in this study. Additional analyses using physically based coupled surface-subsurface models or non-linear or stochastic models are recommended for more rigorous analysis.
Arenas, Antonio; Schilling, Keith; Niemeier, James; and Weber, Larry, "Evaluating the Timing and Interdependence of Hydrologic Processes at the Watershed Scale Based on Continuously Monitored Data" (2018). Iowa Nutrient Research Center Publications and Presentations. 4.