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Recovery of water tables in Welsh blanket bog after drain blocking: Discharge rates, time scales and the influence of local conditions

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

  • Lorraine Wilson
  • Jared Wilson
  • Joseph Holden
  • Ian Johnstone
  • Alona Armstrong
  • Michael Morris
Journal publication date24/09/2010
JournalJournal of Hydrology
Journal number3-4
Volume391
Number of pages10
Pages377-386
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Peatland practitioners and scientists have increasingly recognised the damage resulting from various management methods, and the need to restore peatlands to achieve several potential benefits. Many of the hoped-for benefits of peatland restoration, such as Carbon storage, biodiversity conservation and water quality improvements, are thought to depend on a reinstatement of high water tables that had been reduced by drainage. Despite the current emphasis on restoring drained peatlands, many of the predicted responses to restoration are still not adequately proven and the mechanisms behind them still uncertain. This study reports on water table and discharge responses to drain blocking restoration of a degraded Welsh upland blanket bog. Restoration work and monitoring were designed to permit a novel catchment scale control-intervention experimental design. An information theoretic approach to examining the data provided evidence of increases in water retention and water tables within the bog after restoration. But the study also demonstrated the importance of small and large scale topography in determining the degree of these responses. The increases in water storage after restoration produced lower discharge rates observable at the level of both drains and hill streams; as well as greater water table stability, reduction in peak flows and increases in water residency after rainfall. Crucially, this study showed strong catchment scale differences in response, and a very gradual recovery of water tables, both of which highlight the need for more studies to be carried out at the landscape scale and over longer time periods. (c) 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.