Experimental areas

b.1 Experimental catchments in the Upper Alento River Basin

The Alento River System encompasses approximately 400 km2 and is located in the Campania Region (Salerno Province, Italy). The local climate is sub-humid montane-Mediterranean, with average annual precipitation of about 1200 mm and average annual temperature of 15°C.

Due to the quality of the hydrologic time series and the detailed characterization of the geological, pedological, and hydrogeological features, this experimental area not only appears suitable for deeper insights into the dynamics of hydrological processes evolving in a typical Mediterranean basin, but also may definitely help in identifying sustainable and possible scenarios of land and water resources management, whose implementation necessarily requires a trade-off between environmental needs and societal impacts of water uses. Some dams were built in the basin (the bigger one is the “Piano della Rocca” dam) storing water for hydroelectric, irrigation, and drinking purposes, whereas various public agencies and stakeholders (such as, “Cilento and Vallo di Diano” National Park, “Velia” Bureau of Reclamation, “Alento - Mount Stella” Mountain Community, etc.) are located in this area. This study area is included as a representative site within the UNESCO-HELP program. HELP is the acronym for the Hydrology for Environment, Life and Policy which is a crosscutting program under the International Hydrology Program (IHP) of UNESCO.

The schematic below showing problems being addressed and activities being carried out in the Alento River basin:

This work plan shows the major blocks comprising the general architecture of the Alento River Basin activities. Specifically, it highlights how the dam and the related reservoir represent a pivot point among the various topics that develop upstream and downstream this point. Specific features of the studies being carried out are as follows: (i) to develop and test integrated observation concepts, the proposed long-term monitoring program involves the entire Alento River Basin, with some more specific topics being investigated in the Upper Alento; (ii) the “Piano della Rocca” dam is viewed here as a sort of hinge that not only connects physically the two parts of the study area, but also holds together the various proposed monitoring activities; (iii) these study areas and the relevant problems are definitely representative of basins in the Mediterranean Region.

Upper Alento Basin

Six hillslope transects have been selected across the major soil-landscape units in order to capture as much as possible spatial heterogeneity (Nasta et al., 2009). The selected hillslope transects are characterized by slopes ranging from 10% up to 50%. Surface soil properties have been measured on soil samples collected along the hillslope transects with a spatial interval of 50 m. In the same locations, soil water content has been monitored with a portable Time Domain Reflectometer (TDR) Tektronix device in 10 field campaigns, from October 2004 to January 2005. The sampling days were established after significant rainfall events (Nasta et al., 2013). Daily discharge at the Alento catchment outlet has been retrieved by water balance of the dam reservoir, based on daily storage and volume uptakes data provided by the dam manager.

Catchment MFC1

Intensive monitoring campaigns were conducted and are still under way in this 5-ha sub-basin located in proximity of the town Monteforte Cilento (MFC). This experimental area (MFC1) is partitioned into 5 private lands with different land uses: orchards, seminative, Mediterranean natural shrubland, and grassland. An automatic weather station acquires at 15-min interval the following variables: air temperature, relative humidity, wind speed, and net solar radiation. Potential evapotranspiration (ETp) is computed with the Penmann-Monteith equation from the meteorological data (Allen et al., 1998). Precipitation (P) is recorded at 1-min interval and all measurements are exerted at about 2 m height. In a pit at this location, four Time Domain Reflectometer (TDR) probes (30 cm rod length) were installed on March 20, 2007 at 15 cm, 30 cm, 60 cm and 90 cm soil depths. Groundwater levels are monitored into four water harvesting stone-cased wells. Flow rate at the sub-catchment outlet is measured using a V-notch weir. Water levels in the stone-cased wells and at the V-notch weir are logged automatically using capacitance-type water level probes. Surface soil moisture was measured on 12 monitoring campaigns (September 2006-November 2007) using a portable TDR device (TDR100). The soil water content readings were acquired on a regular square-grid of 92 points with inter-distance of 25 m.

Catchments MFC2 and GOR1

Other two catchments have been recently identified for another high-intensive monitoring campaign that will start soon. Catchment MFC2 is situated in close proximity of MFC1 whereas GOR1 is located by the rural village of Gorga (GOR). The former represents a typical agricultural area whereas the latter reflects the forest land use with a chestnut wood. A cosmic ray soil moisture device (Bogena et al., 2013) will operate in each Catchment as indicated in the maps. Calibration will be a necessary preliminary step before the beginning of the soil moisture monitoring. A wireless sensor network (SoilNet, Forschungszentrum Julich, Germany) will be activated as well in 20 different locations covering the entire areas. For the SoilNet application catchments, ECH2O EC-5, and ECH2O 5TE sensors (Decagon Devices, Pullman, WA, USA) will be used to measure soil water content (wc) and soil matric potential (ψ), respectively at two different depths (5 and 30 cm) in each location. Therefore a total of 80 sensors (40 + 40) in each catchment will measure the 2 hydrological variables (wc and ψ) and transmit the measured values via GSM Modem.

References cited

  1. Allen, R.G., Pereira, L.S., Raes, D., Smith, M., 1998. Crop evapotranspiration: guidelines for computing crop water requirements. Irrigation and Drainage Paper No. 56. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Rome, Italy,300 p.
  2. Bogena, H. R., J. A. Huisman, R. Baatz, H.-J. Hendricks Franssen, and H. Vereecken, 2013, Accuracy of the cosmic-ray soil water content probe in humid forest ecosystems: The worst case scenario, Water Resour. Res., 49, 5778–5791, doi:10.1002/wrcr.20463.
  3. Nasta P., T. Kamai, G.B. Chirico, J.W. Hopmans, N. Romano, 2009, Scaling soil water retention functions using particle-size distribution. J. Hydrol., 374: 223-234.
  4. Nasta, P., B. Sica, G.B. Chirico, S. Ferraris, N. Romano, 2013, Analysis of surface soil water spatial and temporal dynamics in an experimental catchment in Southern Italy. Procedia Environmental Science 19:188-197.



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