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Department of Geography Hydrology and Climate


The TopFlow project focuses on near-surface flow pathways (overland flow and lateral flow through the topsoil) in the pre-Alpine Alptal catchment in Switzerland. The project’s objective is to enhance our understanding of runoff-generation mechanisms on poorly drained, vegetated hillslopes with gleysols and how these near-surface flow pathways affect streamflow and stream chemistry.
In the field measurement campaigns, we will quantify the spatial and temporal variability in the occurrence, amount and chemical composition of overland flow and topsoil interflow and relate them to landscape factors and event characteristics. The unique data set will be used in a model study to evaluate the effects of landscape organization and climate change on the contributions of these flow pathways to streamflow.
The findings will help to explain nutrient fluxes and sediment dynamics on hillslopes, and why streams in the pre-Alpine areas react so quickly to precipitation. Understanding these processes will improve catchment scale hydrological models to predict streamflow.


The project work of Anna Leuteritz:

Anna is studying the spatial and temporal variability of the chemical composition of overland flow and topsoil interflow and their effect on streamflow and stream chemistry for a range of rainfall events. These findings will be used in a model study to quantify the sensitivity of these flow pathways to changing climatic conditions and to evaluate their potential effect on nutrient export and stream chemistry.

Contact: Anna Leuteritz

Supervisor: Ilja van Meerveld


The project work of Victor Gauthier:

Victor's research focuses on flow pathways at the surface and in the topsoil and their connectivity. With field measurements and models, he studies how topography, land-use, topsoil properties, and rainfall event characteristics influence these processes. It helps him to characterize the characteristics of the near-surface flow pathways and evaluate their contributions to the stream network in a catchment area. 

Contact: Victor Gauthier

Supervisor: Ilja van Meerveld

  • Alptal, Mythen

    View from the Studibach catchment to the "Grosse Mythen" and "Kleine Mythen". (Photo: Anna Leuteritz)

  • Experiment

    Sprinkling experiment on a runoff plot to investigate celerity and velocity of near-surface flow pathways. (Photo: Anna Leuteritz)

  • Profile

    Soil profile at a runoff plot. Low permeability Gleysols are overlain by a more conductive topsoil layer. (Photo: Anna Leuteritz)

  • Plot

    Runoff plot installation. (Photo: Florian Lustenberger)

  • ISCO

    Runoff plot in a grassland location. (Photo: Anna Leuteritz)

  • Sampling

    Runoff plot in a forest location. (Photo: Anna Leuteritz)