Connecting patterns at the hillslope scale – new experimental approaches and models
Different processes act on different hydrological scales and produce complex patterns and non-linear behavior. New experimental technologies allow us to observe these spatial-temporal patterns in detail; however, the complexity seems to be overwhelming. We believe that we must combine the observed patterns at different scales using appropriate experimental approaches and new model structures.
Hillslopes are the basic unit for the identification of processes
at the watershed scale and provide an important link between processes at the pedon and watershed scale. At this scale, the heterogeneity of the vegetation cover, the soil properties and the geology are mainly responsible for producing these patterns. But a deterministic model to link all these interrelated properties and processes is still far away. We developed new process based hillslope models with varying complexity and fuzzy definition of properties to study and analyze the experimental results from many hillslope studies around the world. We could show that new experimental methods and a combination of different approaches (e.g. artificial tracers, isotopes) are as necessary as new model structures to make process in predicting flow and solute transport patterns at the hillslope scale.