Multiscale Feature-feature Interactions Control Patterns of Hyporheic Exchange in a Simulated Headwater Mountain Stream

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Journal Article
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Herzog, Skuyler P.; Ward, Adam S.; Wondzell, Steven M. 2019. Multiscale Feature-feature Interactions Control Patterns of Hyporheic Exchange in a Simulated Headwater Mountain Stream. Water Resources Research. 55: 1-17. doi:


Recent predictions of hyporheic exchange at the basin-scale assume individual features control exchange independently of each other, which has been demonstrated in relatively uniform, low-gradient rivers. However, this assumption may not hold in steep catchments where both the type and size of individual features may vary over short distances, leading to irregular patterns of feature dominance on hyporheic exchange flows. Also, steep longitudinal gradients support substantial downvalley flows in the subsurface, which may create feedbacks between adjacent features. In this study, we test the extent to which features interact with one another and whether they can be aggregated to make reach-scale predictions in a headwater mountain stream. Using systematic manipulations of a 2-D stream centerline model and spectral analyses, we test for the presence of both feature-feature and multiscale interactions. Our results show that changing the height of individual step-pool features can alter hyporheic flow fields in neighboring, and sometimes distant, features. Spectral analyses revealed two scales of streambed topography?a local scale of single features and an intermediate scale that spanned multiple local-scale features. All features produced hyporheic exchange, but turnover of deeper hyporheic water only occurred at a few key locations where local- and intermediate-scale features amplified each other. Further, shallow bedrock increases the ratio of local- and intermediate-scale flowpaths to regional-scale flowpaths. Conceptual models portraying hyporheic exchange as a series of nested flowpaths should include the interactions among streambed topographic features in mountain streams. These results have implications for upscaling, field experiments, and stream restoration in steep catchments.
Keywords: hyporheic, multiscale modeling, river corridor, stream corridor, groundwater