White Rose University Consortium logo
University of Leeds logo University of Sheffield logo York University logo

Impact of land drainage on peatland hydrology

Holden, J., Evans, M.G., Burt, T. P. and Horton, M. (2006) Impact of land drainage on peatland hydrology. Journal of Environmental Quality, 35 (5). pp. 1764-1778. ISSN 1537-2537


There is a long history of drainage of blanket peat but few studies of the long-term hydrological impact of drainage. This paper aims to test differences in runoff production processes between intact and drained blanket peat catchments and determine whether there have been any long-term changes in stream flow since drainage occurred. Hillslope runoff processes and stream discharge were measured in four blanket peat catchments. Two catchments were drained with open-cut ditches in the 1950s. Ditching originally resulted in shorter lag times and flashier storm hydrographs but no change in the annual catchment runoff efficiency. In the period between 2002 and 2004, the hydrographs in the drained catchments, while still flashy, were less sensitive to rainfall than in the 1950s and the runoff efficiency had significantly increased. Drains resulted in a distinctive spatial pattern of runoff production across the slopes. Overland flow was significantly lower in the drained catchments where throughflow was more dominant. In the intact peatlands, matrix throughflow produced by peat layers below 10 cm was rare and produced ,1% of the runoff. However, in drained peatlands, matrix throughflow in deeper peat layers was common and provided around 23% of the runoff from gauged plots. Macropore flow, the density of soil piping, and pipeflow were significantly greater in drained peatlands than in intact basins. Gradual changes to peat structure could explain the long-term changes in river flow, which are in addition to those occurring in the immediate aftermath of peatland drainage.

Item Type: Article
Copyright, Publisher and Additional Information: © 2006 American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, and Soil Science Society of America.
Keywords: Land Drainage,Peatland Hydrology
Institution: The University of Leeds
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Environment (Leeds) > School of Geography (Leeds)
Depositing User: S.A Khan
Date Deposited: 26 Sep 2006
Last Modified: 24 Jun 2014 09:40
Published Version: http://dx.doi.org/10.2134/jeq2005.0477
Status: Published
Publisher: American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, and Soil Science Society of America.
Refereed: Yes
Identification Number: 10.2134/jeq2005.0477
URI: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/1609

Actions (repository staff only: login required)