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Assessment of overland flow variation and blue water production in a farmed semi-arid water harvesting catchment

Abstract : Upgrading agriculture in semi-arid areas and ensuring its sustainability, require an optimal management of rainfall partition between blue and green waters in the farmed water harvesting catchment. The main objective of this study is to analyze the influence of heterogeneous land use on the spatial and temporal variation of rainfall partitioning and blue water production within a typical farmed catchment located in north-eastern Tunisia. The catchment has an area of 2.6 km(2) and comprises at its outlet a dam, which retains the runoff water in a reservoir. Overland flow and soil water balance components were monitored during two cropping seasons (2000/2001 and 2001/2002) on a network of eleven plots of 2 m(2) each with different land use and soil characteristics. The hydrological balances of both the catchment and reservoir have been monitored since 1994. Observed data showed a very large temporal and spatial variability of overland flow within the catchment reflecting the great importance of total rainfall as well as land use. During the 2001/2002 season the results showed a large variation of the number of observed runoff events, from 27 to 39, and of the annual overland flow depths, from 8 min (under vineyard on calcaric cambisols) up to 43 mm (under shrubs-pasture on haplic regosols), between the plots. The annual runoff amounts were moderate; they always corresponded to less than 15% of the annual rainfall amount whatever the observation scale. It was also observed that changes in land use in years with similar rainfall could lead to significant differences in blue water flow. An attempt for predicting the overland flow by the general linear regression approach showed an r(2) of 31%, the predictors used are the class of soil infiltration capacity, the initial moisture saturation ratio of the soil surface layer and the total rainfall amounts. These experimental results indicate that the variation in land use in a semi-arid catchment is a main factor of variation in soil surface conditions and explain the major role played by the former on hydrological behavior of the upstream area and on rainfall partition between overland flow and infiltration. Therefore, to predict the water harvesting capacities in terms of blue water production of a farmed catchment in semi-arid areas it seems essential to consider precisely its land use and its temporal evolution related to management practices
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I. Mekki I., Jean Albergel, N. Ben Mechlia, Marc Voltz. Assessment of overland flow variation and blue water production in a farmed semi-arid water harvesting catchment. Physics and Chemistry of the Earth, Elsevier, 2006, 31 (17), pp.1048-1061. ⟨10.1016/j.pce.2006.07.003⟩. ⟨hal-02668863⟩



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