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Hydrologic indices for nontidal wetlands

January 1, 1997

Two sets of hydrologic indices were developed to characterize the water-budget components of nontidal wetlands. The first set consisted of six water-budget indices for input and output variables, and the second set consisted of two hydrologic interaction indices derived from the water-budget indices. The indices then were applied to 19 wetlands with previously published water-budget data. Two trilinear diagrams for each wetland were constructed, one for the three input indices and another for the three output indices. These two trilinear diagrams then were combined with a central quadrangle to form a Piper-type diagram, with data points from the trilinear diagrams projected onto the quadrangle. The quadrangle then was divided into nine fields that summarized the water-budget information. Two quantitative "interaction indices" were calculated from two of the six water-budget indices (precipitation and evapotranspiration). They also were obtained graphically from the water-budget indices, which were first projected to the central quadrangle of a Piper-type diagram from the flanking trilinear plots. The first interaction index (l) defines the strength of interaction between a wetland and the surrounding ground- and surface-water system. The second interaction index (S) defines the nature of the interaction between the wetland and the surrounding ground- and surface-water system (source versus sink). Evaluation of these indices using published wetland water-budget data illustrates the usefulness of the technique.