Fluvial transport of suspended sediment and organic carbon during flood events in a large agricultural catchment in southwest France

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Water draining from a large agricultural catchment of 1 110 km2 in southwest France was sampled over an 18-month period to determine the temporal variability in suspended sediment (SS) and dissolved (DOC) and particulate organic carbon (POC) transport during flood events, with quantification of fluxes and controlling factors, and to analyze the relationships between discharge and SS, DOC and POC. A total of 15 flood events were analyzed, providing extensive data on SS, POC and DOC during floods. There was high variability in SS, POC and DOC transport during different seasonal floods, with SS varying by event from 513 to 41 750 t; POC from 12 to 748 t and DOC from 9 to 218 t. Overall, 76 and 62% of total fluxes of POC and DOC occurred within 22% of the study period. POC and DOC export from the Save catchment amounted to 3090 t and 1240 t, equivalent to 1·8 t km−2 y−1 and 0·7 t km−2 y−1, respectively. Statistical analyses showed that total precipitation, flood discharge and total water yield were the major factors controlling SS, POC and DOC transport from the catchment. The relationships between SS, POC and DOC and discharge over temporal flood events resulted in different hysteresis patterns, which were used to deduce dissolved and particulate origins. In both clockwise and anticlockwise hysteresis, POC mainly followed the same patterns as discharge and SS. The DOC-discharge relationship was mainly characterized by alternating clockwise and anticlockwise hysteresis due to dilution effects of water originating from different sources in the whole catchment. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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