Water, Air, & Soil Pollution

, Volume 214, Issue 1–4, pp 547–563 | Cite as

Influence of Catchment Characteristics and Flood Type on Relationship Between Streamwater Chemistry and Streamflow: Case Study from Carpathian Foothills in Poland

  • Joanna P. SiwekEmail author
  • Mirosław Żelazny
  • Wojciech Chełmicki


The study aimed to determine the influence of catchment characteristics and flood type on the relationship between streamflow and a number of chemical characteristics of streamwater. These were specific electrical conductivity (SC), pH, the concentrations of main ions (Ca2+, Mg2+, Na+, K+, HCO 3 , SO 4 2− , and Cl), and nutrients (NH 4 + , NO 2 , NO 3 , and PO 4 3− ). These relationships were studied in three small catchments with different geological structure and land use. Several flood types were distinguished based on the factors that initiate flooding and specific conditions during events. Geological factors led to a lower SC and main ion concentrations at a given specific runoff in catchments built of resistant sandstone versus those built of less resistant sediments. A lower concentration of nutrients was detected in the semi-natural woodland catchment versus agricultural and mixed-use catchments, which are strongly impacted by human activity. The strongest correlation between streamflow and the chemical characteristics of water was found in the woodland catchment. Different types of floods were characterized by different ion concentrations. In the woodland catchment, higher SC and higher concentrations of most main ions were noted during storm-induced floods than during floods induced by prolonged rainfall. The opposite was true for the agricultural and mixed-use catchments. During snowmelt floods, SC, NO 3 , and most main ion concentrations were higher when the soil was unfrozen in the agricultural and mixed-use catchments versus when the soil was frozen. In the case of the remaining nutrients, lower concentrations of NH 4 + were detected during rain-induced floods than during snowmelt floods. The opposite was true of PO 4 3− .


Floods Human impact Land use Nutrient ions Streamwater chemistry Water pollution 



The research project was funded by the Polish Committee for Scientific Research (Project 3 P04G 050 22). The authors wish to thank anonymous reviewers for their critical comments and Grzegorz Zębik for his helpful advice and correction of the English language of the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joanna P. Siwek
    • 1
    Email author
  • Mirosław Żelazny
    • 2
  • Wojciech Chełmicki
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Natural SciencesUniversity of Physical Education, Institute of Tourism and RecreationKrakówPoland
  2. 2.Department of HydrologyJagiellonian University, Institute of Geography and Spatial ManagementKrakówPoland

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