Deforestation's Impact on the Water Cycle

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username4867806
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#1
Report Thread starter 2 years ago
#1
We've been taught that deforestation increases runoff so discharge in rivers increases, and also that deforestation reduces precipitation levels as the rate of transpiration will be reduced, which can therefore dry up rivers.

Does the first impact happen more in the short term whilst the second is in the long term?
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naem071
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#2
Report 2 years ago
#2
The impacts of deforestation all occur on a temporal scale from short-term to long-term.

Thinking immediately after deforestation, you would expect the soil to become looser as roots no longer bind it together, this could increase infiltration. The reduction of foliage in the canopy layer will decrease interception. If slash and burn has been adopted, particulates from the smoke can act as condensation nuclei which could increase local precipitation. How could these all affect river discharge?

Some time after, the looser soil may have eroded away, this will decrease infiltration. The reduction in evapotranspiration will decrease moisture levels, this will then decrease precipitation. The reduction in plant litter will also decrease the size of the humus layer so it holds onto less water. How could these all affect river discharge?
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