Scatena F.N.

Reduced channel morphological response to urbanization in a flood-dominated humid tropical environment

Phillips C.B., Scatena F.N. Reduced channel morphological response to urbanization in a flood-dominated humid tropical environment. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms. 2012. DOI: 10.1002/esp.3345

Urbanization through the addition of impervious cover can alter catchment hydrology, often resulting in increased peak flows during floods. This phenomenon and the resulting impact on stream channel morphology is well documented in temperate climatic regions, but not well documented in the humid tropics where urbanization is rapidly occurring. This study investigates the long-term effects of urbanization on channel morphology in the humid sub-tropical region of Puerto Rico, an area characterized by frequent high-magnitude flows, and steep coarse-grained rivers. Grain size, low-flow channel roughness, and the hydraulic geometry of streams across a land-use gradient that ranges from pristine forest to high density urbanized catchments are compared. In areas that have been urbanized for several decades changes in channel features were measurable, but were smaller than those reported for comparable temperate streams. Decades of development has resulted in increased fine sediment and anthropogenic debris in urbanized catchments. Materials of anthropogenic origin comprise an average of 6% of the bed material in streams with catchments with 15% or greater impervious cover. At-a-station hydraulic geometry shows that velocity makes up a larger component of discharge for rural channels, while depth contributes a larger component of discharge in urban catchments. The average bank-full cross-sectional area of urbanized reaches was 1.5 times larger than comparable forested reaches, and less than the world average increase of 2.5. On average, stream width at bank-full height did not change with urbanization while the world average increase is 1.5 times. Overall, this study indicates that the morphologic changes that occur in response to urban runoff are less in channels that are already subject to frequent large magnitude storms. Furthermore, this study suggests that developing regions in the humid tropics shouldn’t rely on temperate analogues to determine the magnitude of impact of urbanization on stream morphology. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Long-term dynamics of organic matter and elements exported as coarse particulates from two Caribbean montane watersheds

Heartsill Scalley, T., Scatena, F.N., Moya S., Lugo A.E., 2012 Long-term dynamics of organic matter and elements exported as coarse particulates from two Caribbean montane watersheds. Journal of Tropical Ecology. Vol 28. pp 127-139. doi:10.1017/S0266467411000733

Atypical soil carbon distribution across a tropical steepland forest catena.

Johnson K.D., Scatena F.N., Silver W.L. Atypical soil carbon distribution across a tropical steepland forest catena. CATENA, In Press, Corrected Proof, Available online 4 August 2011, ISSN 0341-8162, DOI: 10.1016/j.catena.2011.07.008. (

Soil organic carbon (SOC) in a humid subtropical forest in Puerto Rico is higher at ridge locations compared to valleys, and therefore opposite to what is commonly observed in other forested hillslope catenas. To better understand the spatial distribution of SOC in this system, plots previously characterized by topographic position, vegetation type and stand age were related to soil depth and SOC. Additional factors were also investigated, including topographically-related differences in litter dynamics and soil chemistry. To investigate the influence of litter dynamics, the Century soil organic model was parameterized to simulate the effect of substituting valley species for ridge species. Soil chemical controls on C concentrations were investigated with multiple linear regression models using iron, aluminum and clay variables. Deeper soils were associated with indicators of higher landscape stability (older tabonuco stands established on ridges and slopes), while shallower soils persisted in more disturbed areas (younger non-tabonuco stands in valleys and on slopes). Soil depth alone accounted for 77% of the observed difference in the mean 0 to 60 cmSOC between ridge soils (deeper) and valley soils (shallower). The remaining differences in SOC were due to additional factors that lowered C concentrations at valley locations in the 0 to 10 cm pool. Model simulations showed a slight decrease in SOC when lower litter C:N was substituted for higher litter C:N, but the effects of different woody inputs on SOC were unclear. Multiple linear regression models with ammonium oxalate extractable iron and aluminum, dithionite–citrate-extractable iron and aluminum, and clay contents explained as much as 74% of the variation in C concentrations, and indicated that organo-mineral complexation may be more limited in poorly developed valley soils. Thus, topography both directly and indirectly affects SOC pools through a variety of inter-related processes that are often not quantified or captured in terrestrial carbon models.

Streams of the Montane Humid Tropics. Treatise on Geomorphology

Scatena F.N., Gupta A., 2011. Streams of the Montane Humid Tropics. Treatise on Geomorphology. Editors E. Wohl. Academic Press, San Diego Ca. Vol 9. in press April 2011

Tropical montane streams produce a disproportionately large amount of the sediment and carbon that reaches coastal regions and have often been considered to be distinct fluvial systems. They typically drain orogenic terrains that have not been recently glaciated, but have undergone climatic changes throughout the Pleistocene and currently receive 2000–3000 mm or more of precipitation each year. Steep gradient reaches with numerous boulders, rapids, and waterfalls that alternate with lower gradient reaches flowing over weathered rock or a thin veneer of coarse alluvium characterize these streams. Although their morphology and hydrology have distinctive characteristics, they do not appear to have diagnostic landforms that can be solely attributed to their low-latitude locations. While they are relatively understudied, an emerging view is that their distinctiveness results from a combination of high rates of chemical and physical weathering and a high frequency of significant geomorphic events rather than the absolute magnitudes of individual floods or other geomorphic processes. Their bedrock reaches and abundance of large and relatively immobile boulders combined with their ability to transport finer-grained sediment also suggest that the restorative processes in these systems may be less responsive than in other fluvial systems.

Wet canopy evaporation from a Puerto Rican lower montane rain forest: the importance of realistically estimated aerodynamic conductance

Holwerda F., Bruijnzeel L.A., Scatena F.N., Vugts H.F., Meesters A.G.C.A 2011. Wet canopy evaporation from a Puerto Rican lower montane rain forest: the importance of realistically estimated aerodynamic conductance. In press Journal of Hydrology

Rainfall interception (I) was measured in 20 m tall Puerto Rican tropical forest with complex topography for a one-year period using totalizing throughfall (TF) and stemflow (SF) gauges that were measured every 2–3 days. Measured values were then compared to evaporation under saturated canopy conditions (E) determined with the Penman-Monteith (P-M) equation, using (i) measured (eddy covariance) and (ii) calculated (as a function of forest height and wind speed) values for the aerodynamic conductance to momentum flux (ga,M). E was also derived using the energy balance equation and the sensible heat flux measured by a sonic anemometer (Hs). I per sampling occasion was strongly correlated with rainfall (P): I = 0.21P + 0.60 (mm), r2 = 0.82, n = 121. Values for canopy storage capacity (S = 0.37 mm) and the average relative evaporation rate (E/R = 0.20) were derived from data for single events (n = 51). Application of the Gash analytical interception model to 70 multiple-storm sampling events using the above values for S and E/R gave excellent agreement with measured I. For E/R = 0.20 and an average rainfall intensity (R) of 3.16 mm h-1, the TF-based E was 0.63 mm h-1, about four times the value derived with the P-M equation using a conventionally calculated ga,M (0.16 mm h-1). Estimating ga,M using wind data from a nearby but more exposed site yielded a value of E (0.40 mm h-1) that was much closer to the observed rate, whereas E derived using the energy balance equation and Hs was very low (0.13 mm h-1), presumably because Hs was underestimated due to the use of too short a flux-averaging period (5-min). The best agreement with the observed E was obtained when using the measured ga,M in the P-M equation (0.58 mm h-1). The present results show that in areas with complex topography, ga,M, and consequently E, can be strongly underestimated when calculated using equations that were derived originally for use in flat terrain; hence, direct measurement of ga,M using eddy covariance is recommended. The currently measured ga,M (0.31 m s-1) was at least several times, and up to one order of magnitude higher than values reported for forests in areas with flat or gentle topography (0.03–0.08 m s-1, at wind speeds of about 1 m s-1). The importance of ga,M at the study site suggests a negative, downward, sensible heat flux sustains the observed high evaporation rates during rainfall. More work is needed to better quantify Hs during rainfall in tropical forests with complex topography.

Twelve testable hypotheses on the Geobiology of weathering

Brantley S.L., Megonigal J.P., Scatena F.N. et al 2010. Twelve testable hypotheses on the Geobiology of weathering. Geobiology. DOI: 10.1111/j.1472-4669.2010.00264.x

Critical Zone (CZ) research investigates the chemical, physical, and biological processes that modulate the Earth’s surface. Here, we advance 12 hypotheses that must be tested to improve our understanding of the CZ: (1) Solar-to-chemical conversion of energy by plants regulates flows of carbon, water, and nutrients through plant-microbe soil networks, thereby controlling the location and extent of biological weathering. (2) Biological stoichiometry drives changes in mineral stoichiometry and distribution through weathering. (3) On landscapes experiencing little erosion, biology drives weathering during initial succession, whereas weathering drives biology over the long term.(4) In eroding landscapes, weathering-front advance at depth is coupled to surface denudation via biotic processes.(5) Biology shapes the topography of the Critical Zone.(6) The impact of climate forcing on denudation rates in natural systems can be predicted from models incorporating biogeochemical reaction rates and geomorphological transport laws.(7) Rising global temperatures will increase carbon losses from the Critical Zone.(8) Rising atmospheric PCO2 will increase rates and extents of mineral weathering in soils.(9) Riverine solute fluxes will respond to changes in climate primarily due to changes in water fluxes and secondarily through changes in biologically mediated weathering.(10) Land use change will impact Critical Zone processes and exports more than climate change. (11) In many severely altered settings, restoration of hydrological processes is possible in decades or less, whereas restoration of biodiversity and biogeochemical processes requires longer timescales.(12) Biogeochemical properties impart thresholds or tipping points beyond which rapid and irreversible losses of ecosystem health, function, and services can occur.

Modelling the impact of recent land-cover changes on the stream flows in northeastern Puerto Rico

Wu W, Hall CAS, Scatena FN. Modelling the impact of recent
land-cover changes on the stream flows in northeastern Puerto
Rico. Hydrol Process 2007; 21: 2944-2956.

We investigated the influence of recent and future land-cover changes on stream flow of a watershed northeastern Puerto Rico using hydrological modeling and simulation analysis. Monthly and average annual stream flows were compared between an agricultural period (1973–1980) and an urbanized/reforested period (1988–1995) using the revised Generalized Watershed Loading Function model. Our validated results show that a smaller proportion of rainfall became stream flows in the urbanized/forested period compared with the agricultural period, apparently because of reforestation. Sensitivity analysis of the model showed that evapotranspiration, precipitation, and curve number were the most significant factors influencing stream flow. Simulations of projected land-cover scenarios indicate that annual stream flows would increase by 9Ð6% in a total urbanization scenario, decrease by 3Ð6% in a total reforestation scenario, and decrease by 1Ð1% if both reforestation and urbanization continue at their current rates to 2020. An imposed hurricane event that was similar in scale to the largest recent event on the three land-cover scenarios would increase the daily stream flow by 62Ð1%, 68Ð4% and 67Ð1% respectively. Owing to the environmental setting of eastern Puerto Rico, where sea breezes caused by temperature differences between land surface and the ocean dominate the local climate, we suggest that managing local land-cover changes can have important consequences for water management. Copyright  2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Spatial modelling of evapotranspiration in the Luquillo experimental forest of Puerto Rico using remotely-sensed data

Wu, Wei; Hall, Charles A.S.; Scatena, Frederick N.; Quackenbush, Lindi J. 2006. Spatial modelling of evapotranspiration in the Luquillo experimental forest of Puerto Rico using remotely-sensed data.. Journal of Hydrology 328, 733- 752.

Actual evapotranspiration (aET) and related processes in tropical forests can explain 70% of the lateral global energy transport through latent heat, and therefore are very important in the redistribution of water on the Earth’s surface [Mauser, M., Scha¨dlich, S., 1998. Modelling the spatial distribution of evapotranspiration on different scales using remote sensing data. J. Hydrol. 212–213, 250–267]. Unfortunately, there are few spatial studies of these processes in tropical forests. This research integrates one Landsat Thematic Mapper (TM) image and three Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) images with a hydrological model [Granger, R.J., Gray, D.M., 1989. Evaporation from natural nonsaturated surfaces. J. Hydrol. 111, 21–29] to estimate the spatial pattern of aET over the Luquillo Experimental Forest (LEF) – a tropical forest in northeastern Puerto Rico – for the month of January, the only month that these remotely sensed images were acquired. The derived aETs ranged from 0 to 7.22 mm/day with a mean of 3.08 ± 1.35 mm/day which were comparable to other estimates. Simulated aET was highest in the low elevation forest and decreased progressively toward higher elevations. Because of differences in solar radiation at different elevations, aspects and topographic positions, aET tended to be higher on south slopes and along ridges than on north slopes and in valleys. In addition, the Bowen ratio (the ratio of sensible heat to latent heat) varied across different vegetation types and increased with elevation, thus reflecting differences in the distribution of net solar radiation incident on the earth’s surface. Over a day, the highest simulated aET occurred at around noon. We also applied this model to simulate the average monthly aET over an entire year based on the cloud patterns derived from at least two MODIS images for each month. The highest simulated aET occurred in February and March and the lowest in May. These observations are consistent with long term data. The simulated values were compared with field measurements of the sap flow velocity of trees at different elevations and in different forest types. These comparisons had good agreement in the low elevation forest but only moderate agreement in the elfin forest at high elevations. ª 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Fluvial Processes in Geomorphology and Environmental Management: The 2006 Benjamin Franklin Medal in Earth and Environmental Science awarded to Luna B. Leopold and M. Gordon Wolman

Frederick N. Scatenaa, and Robert D. Varrin
Fluvial Processes in Geomorphology and Environmental Management: The 2006 Benjamin Franklin Medal in Earth and Environmental Science awarded to Luna B. Leopold and M. Gordon Wolman
Journal of the Franklin Institute
Volume 347, Issue 4, May 2010, Pages 688-697
The 2006 Franklin Institute Awards

Starting in the 1950s Luna B. Leopold and M. Gordon Wolman transformed the field of geomorphology with quantitative and process-orientated studies designed to understand landscape adjustments to temporal and spatial changes in sediment supply and streamflow. By integrating fundamental science with keen observations they developed the first comprehensive and mechanistic understanding of rivers and floodplains. Their research has not only provided a quantitative framework for understanding landscape evolution, it is a cornerstone of modern water resource management and environmental impact analysis. Specific research areas included quantifying: (1) the “hydraulic geometry” of rivers; (2) the morphology and processes of rivers; (3) channel networks and the longitudinal profiles of rivers; (4) processes controlling floodplain formation; (5) the magnitude and frequency of geomorphic processes; and (6) the cycle of sedimentation in response to urban development. Much of this research was published in seven co-authored articles and in a widely used 1964 book that they co-authored with John Miller, Fluvial Processes in Geomorphology. While their contributions are synergistically linked and stem from their co-authored papers, their individual contributions are distinct and extend over 50 years. For these accomplishments, Luna Leopold and M. Gordon Wolman were awarded the 2006 Benjamin Franklin Medal in Earth and Environmental Science.

Modeling the spatial and temporal variability in climate and primary productivity across the Luquillo Mountains, Puerto Rico

Wanga, Hongqing; Halla, Charles A.S.; Scatenab, Frederick N.; Fetcherc, Ned; Wua, Wei 2003. Modeling the spatial and temporal variability in climate and primary productivity across the Luquillo Mountains, Puerto Rico.. Forest Ecology and Management 179 :69-94l.

There are few studies that have examined the spatial variability of forest productivity over an entire tropical forested landscape. In this study, we used a spatially-explicit forest productivity model, TOPOPROD, which is based on the FORESTBGC model, to simulate spatial patterns of gross primary productivity (GPP), net primary productivity (NPP), and respiration over the entire Luquillo Experimental Forest (LEF) in the mountains of northeastern Puerto Rico.We modeled climate variables (e.g. solar insolation, temperature, rainfall and transpiration) using a topography-based climate model, TOPOCLIM. The simulated GPP ranged from 8 to 92 t C/ha per year with a mean of 51 t C/ha per year. The simulated NPP ranged from 0.5 to 24 t C/ha per year with a mean of 9.4 t C/ha per year. The simulated plant respiration ranged from 31 to 68 with a mean of 42 t C/ha per year. Simulated GPP and respiration declined with increased elevation whereas simulated NPP increased from low to middle elevation but decreased from middle to high elevations. Statistical analyses indicate that variation in solar insolation, which decreases with increase in elevation, is the most important factor controlling the spatial variation of forest productivity in the LEF. Validation with the limited spatial empirical data indicated that our simulations overestimated GPP by 2% for a middle elevation test site, and by 43% for a mountain peak site. Our simulations also overestimated NPP in the middle elevation Colorado forest and higher elevation Dwarf forest by 32 and 36%, respectively, but underestimated NPP in the Tabonuco and Palm forests at low to middle elevations by 9–15% and 18%, respectively. Simulated GPP and NPP would decrease under CO2 doubling as projected temperatures increase and precipitation decreases. Different forest types respond differently to potential climate change and CO2 doubling. Comparison with other tropical forests suggests that the LEF as a whole has higher GPP (51 tC/ha per year versus 40 t C/ha per year) but lower NPP (9.4 t C/ha per year versus 11 t C/ha per year) than other tropical rain forests.
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