Effect of experimental wood addition on hyporheic exchange and thermal dynamics in a losing meadow stream


Corresponding author: A. H. Sawyer, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY 40506, USA. (audrey.sawyer@uky.edu)


[1] Stream restoration structures such as large wood can enhance shallow river-groundwater exchange, or hyporheic exchange, and alter temperature dynamics in restored reaches. We added and then removed channel-spanning logs in a second-order mountain meadow stream to test short-term impacts on hyporheic exchange, streambed temperatures, and surface water temperatures. Based on vertical seepage measurements and numerical simulations of hyporheic fluid and heat flow, large wood addition increased hyporheic exchange and altered streambed temperatures. In this losing stream, meter-scale hyporheic exchange cells formed beneath large wood. Upwelling pore water downstream of logs stabilized diel temperature cycles across <8% of the streambed, creating localized but potentially valuable thermal refuge. Exchange rates were <0.1% of channel discharge—too small to impact the range of diel temperature signals in surface water. However, the lag between downstream and upstream diel temperature signals was slightly greater with large wood, which may indicate that surface storage zones rather than hyporheic storage zones increased thermal retardation. Losing conditions limited the spatial extent and rates of hyporheic exchange near large wood. Impacts of large wood reintroduction on hyporheic exchange depend on ambient groundwater discharge or recharge, streambed permeability, channel Froude number, large wood blockage ratio, and large wood spacing. In many streams, large wood reintroduction may increase hyporheic habitat volume and complexity but may not increase exchange rates enough to alter surface water temperature or chemistry. Surface storage zones such as eddies and pools can still influence heat and solute retention in the channel.