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Creators/Authors contains: "Gomez-Velez, Jesus D."

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  1. null (Ed.)
    Abstract. Groundwater table dynamics extensively modify the volume of the hyporheic zoneand the rate of hyporheic exchange processes. Understanding the effects ofdaily groundwater table fluctuations on the tightly coupled flow and heattransport within hyporheic zones is crucial for water resourcesmanagement. With this aim in mind, a physically based model is used to explorehyporheic responses to varying groundwater table fluctuationscenarios. The effects of different timing and amplitude of groundwater tabledaily drawdowns under gaining and losing conditions are explored in hyporheiczones influenced by natural flood events and diel river temperaturefluctuations. We find that both diel river temperature fluctuations and dailygroundwater table drawdowns play important roles in determining thespatiotemporal variability of hyporheic exchange rates, temperature ofexfiltrating hyporheic fluxes, mean residence times, and hyporheicdenitrification potentials. Groundwater table dynamics present substantiallydistinct impacts on hyporheic exchange under gaining or losing conditions. Thetiming of groundwater table drawdown has a direct influence on hyporheicexchange rates and hyporheic buffering capacity on thermaldisturbances. Consequently, the selection of aquifer pumping regimes hassignificant impacts on the dispersal of pollutants in the aquifer and thermalheterogeneity in the sediment. 
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  2. Abstract

    Analytical solutions for the three‐dimensional groundwater flow equation have been widely used to gain insight about subsurface flow structure and as an alternative to computationally expensive numerical models. Of particular interest are solutions that decompose prescribed hydraulic head boundaries (e.g., Dirichlet boundary condition) into a collection of harmonic functions. Previous studies estimate the frequencies and amplitudes of these harmonics with a least‐square approach where the amplitudes are fitted given a pre‐assigned set of frequencies. In these studies, an ad hoc and structured discretization of the frequency domain is typically used, excluding dominant frequencies while assigning importance to spurious frequencies, with significant consequences for estimating the fluxes and residence times. This study demonstrates the advantages of using a pre‐assigned frequency spectrum that targets the dominant frequencies based on rigorous statistical analysis with predefined significance levels. The new approach is tested for three hydrologic conceptualizations: (a) a synthetic periodic basin, (b) synthetic bedforms, and (c) a natural mountainous watershed. The performance of the frequency spectrum selection is compared with exact analytical or approximate numerical solutions. We found that the new approach better describes the fluxes and residence times for Dirichlet boundaries with well‐defined characteristics spatial scales (e.g., periodic basins and bedforms). For more complex scenarios, such as natural mountainous watersheds, both pre‐assigned frequency spectrums present similar performance. The spectral solutions presented here can play a central role in developing reduced‐complexity models for assessing regional water and solute fluxes within mountain watersheds and hyporheic zones.

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  3. Abstract

    In this paper, we develop and validate a rigorous modeling framework, based on Duhamel's Theorem, for the unsteady one‐dimensional vertical transport of a solute across a flat sediment‐water interface (SWI) and through the benthic biolayer of a turbulent stream. The modeling framework is novel in capturing the two‐way coupling between evolving solute concentrations above and below the SWI and in allowing for a depth‐varying diffusivity. Three diffusivity profiles within the sediment (constant, exponentially decaying, and a hybrid model) are evaluated against an extensive set of previously published laboratory measurements of turbulent mass transfer across the SWI. The exponential diffusivity profile best represents experimental observations and its reference diffusivity scales with the permeability Reynolds number, a dimensionless measure of turbulence at the SWI. The depth over which turbulence‐enhanced diffusivity decays is of the order of centimeters and comparable to the thickness of the benthic biolayer. Thus, turbulent mixing across the SWI may serve as a universal transport mechanism, supplying the nutrient and energy fluxes needed to sustain microbial growth, and nutrient processing, in the benthic biolayer of stream and coastal sediments.

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  4. Abstract

    Many water quality and ecosystem functions performed by streams occur in the benthic biolayer, the biologically active upper (~5 cm) layer of the streambed. Solute transport through the benthic biolayer is facilitated by bedform pumping, a physical process in which dynamic and static pressure variations over the surface of stationary bedforms (e.g., ripples and dunes) drive flow across the sediment‐water interface. In this paper we derive two predictive modeling frameworks, one advective and the other diffusive, for solute transport through the benthic biolayer by bedform pumping. Both frameworks closely reproduce patterns and rates of bedform pumping previously measured in the laboratory, provided that the diffusion model's dispersion coefficient declines exponentially with depth. They are also functionally equivalent, such that parameter sets inferred from the 2D advective model can be applied to the 1D diffusive model, and vice versa. The functional equivalence and complementary strengths of these two models expand the range of questions that can be answered, for example, by adopting the 2D advective model to study the effects of geomorphic processes (such as bedform adjustments to land use change) on flow‐dependent processes and the 1D diffusive model to study problems where multiple transport mechanisms combine (such as bedform pumping and turbulent diffusion). By unifying 2D advective and 1D diffusive descriptions of bedform pumping, our analytical results provide a straightforward and computationally efficient approach for predicting, and better understanding, solute transport in the benthic biolayer of streams and coastal sediments.

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  5. Abstract

    Hyporheic exchange is a crucial control of the type and rates of streambed biogeochemical processes, including metabolism, respiration, nutrient turnover, and the transformation of pollutants. Previous work has shown that increasing discharge during an individual peak flow event strengthens biogeochemical turnover by enhancing the exchange of water and dissolved solutes. However, due to the nonsteady nature of the exchange process, successive peak flow events do not exhibit proportional variations in residence time and turnover, and in some cases, can reduce the hyporheic zones' biogeochemical potential. Here, we used a process‐based model to explore the role of successive peak flow events on the flow and transport characteristics of bedform‐induced hyporheic exchange. We conducted a systematic analysis of the impacts of the events' magnitude, duration, and time between peaks in the hyporheic zone's fluxes, penetration, and residence times. The relative contribution of each event to the transport of solutes across the sediment‐water interface was inferred from transport simulations of a conservative solute. In addition to temporal variations in the hyporheic flow field, our results demonstrate that the separation between two events determines the temporal evolution of residence time and that event time lags longer than the memory of the system result in successive events that can be treated independently. This study highlights the importance of discharge variability in the dynamics of hyporheic exchange and its potential implications for biogeochemical transformations and fate of contaminants along river corridors.

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  6. Abstract

    Physics‐based distributed hydrological models that include groundwater are widely used to understand and predict physical and biogeochemical processes within watersheds. Typically, due to computational limitations, watershed modelers minimize the number of elements used in domain discretization, smoothing or even ignoring critical topographic features. We use an idealized model to investigate the implications of mesh refinement along streams and ridges for modeling three‐dimensional groundwater flow and transport in mountainous watersheds. For varying degrees of topographic complexity level (TCL), which increases with the level of mesh refinement, and geological heterogeneity, we estimate and compare steady state baseflow discharge, mean age, and concentration of subsurface weathering products. Results show that ignoring lower‐order streams or ridges diminishes flow through local flow paths and biases higher the contribution of intermediate and regional flow paths, and biases baseflow older. The magnitude of the bias increases for systems where permeability rapidly decreases with depth and is dominated by shallow flow paths. Based on a simple geochemical model, the concentration of weathering products is less sensitive to the TCL, partially due to the thermodynamic constraints on chemical reactions. Our idealized model also reproduces the observed emergent scaling relationship between the groundwater contribution to streamflow and drainage area, and finds that this scaling relationship is not sensitive to mesh TCL. The bias effects have important implications for the use of hydrological models in the interpretation of environmental tracer data and the prediction of biogeochemical evolution of stream water in mountainous watersheds.

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  7. Abstract

    Small ponds—farm ponds, detention ponds, or impoundments below 0.01 km2—serve important human needs throughout most large river basins. Yet the role of small ponds in regional nutrient and sediment budgets is essentially unknown, currently making it impossible to evaluate their management potential to achieve water quality objectives. Here we used new hydrography data sets and found that small ponds, depending on their spatial position within both their local catchments and the larger river network, can dominate the retention of nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment compared to rivers, lakes, and reservoirs. Over 300,000 small ponds are collectively responsible for 34%, 69%, and 12% of the mean annual retention of nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment in the Northeastern United States, respectively, with a dominant influence in headwater catchments (54%, 85%, and 50%, respectively). Small ponds play a critical role among the many aquatic features in long‐term nutrient and sediment loading to downstream waters.

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