The limited impact of vegetation on the water balance of mine waste cover systems in semi-arid Australia

Arnold, S., Schneider, A., Doley, D. and Baumgartl, T. (2014) The limited impact of vegetation on the water balance of mine waste cover systems in semi-arid Australia. Ecohydrology, 8 3: 355-367. doi:10.1002/eco.1485

Author Arnold, S.
Schneider, A.
Doley, D.
Baumgartl, T.
Title The limited impact of vegetation on the water balance of mine waste cover systems in semi-arid Australia
Journal name Ecohydrology   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1936-0584
Publication date 2014-01-01
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1002/eco.1485
Open Access Status Not yet assessed
Volume 8
Issue 3
Start page 355
End page 367
Total pages 13
Place of publication Bognor Regis, West Sussex, United Kingdom
Publisher John Wiley & Sons
Language eng
Abstract In (semi-)arid environments, mine waste cover systems aim to minimise drainage into underlying hazardous wastes by maximising evaporation from the soil and transpiration from vegetation. We estimated the evapotranspiration (ET) for an area occupied by characteristic semi-arid native Australian plant species. Using an open top chamber, we measured diurnal and daily ET of two plant species – Senna artemisioides (silver cassia) and Sclerolaena birchii (galvanised burr) – after a simulated rainfall event, as well as evaporation (E) from bare soil. Both ET and E decreased with increasing time after initial watering. However, we observed different temporal patterns for daily ET and E, indicating that S. artemisioides and S. birchii are relatively intensive and extensive water exploiters, respectively. We found a strong positive linear relationship between ET or E and the atmospheric water demand represented by the vapour pressure deficit. This correlation was more pronounced in the morning than in the afternoon, indicating a diminishing water supply from the soil associated with a declining unsaturated hydraulic conductivity of the soil in the afternoon. We used the estimated values of ET and E to project the effect of species composition on plot ET in relation to total vegetation coverage. Although both species survive and grow under the dry conditions at the study site, their influence on plot ET was rather small due to the low vegetation coverage. On this basis we conclude that the relevance of plants on ET cover systems is small under such water-limited conditions of semi-arid and arid climates.
Keyword Waste cover system
Evapotranspiration (ET)
Open top chambers (OTCs)
Engineered ecosystem
Engineered cover
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Centre for Mined Land Rehabilitation Publications
Official 2015 Collection
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 2 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 2 times in Scopus Article | Citations
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Created: Wed, 26 Feb 2014, 20:46:33 EST by Dr Sven Arnold on behalf of Centre For Mined Land Rehabilitation