Many studies have investigated the exchange processes that occur between rivers and groundwater systems and have successfully quantified the water fluxes involved. Specifically, these exchange processes include hyporheic exchange, river-aquifer exchange (groundwater discharge and river loss) and bank storage exchange. Remarkably, there are relatively few examples of field studies where more than one exchange process is quantified, and as a consequence, the relationships between them are not well understood. To compare the relative magnitudes of these common exchange processes, we have collected data from 54 studies that have quantified one or more of these exchange flux types. Each flux value is plotted against river discharge at the time of measurement to allow the different exchange flux types to be compared. We show that there are positive relationships between the magnitude of each exchange flux type and increasing river discharge across the different studies. For every one order of magnitude increase in river discharge, the hyporheic, river-aquifer and bank storage exchange fluxes increase by factors of 2.7, 2.9 and 2.5, respectively. On average, hyporheic exchange fluxes are almost an order of magnitude greater than river-aquifer exchange fluxes, which are, in turn, approximately four times greater than bank storage exchange fluxes for the same river discharge. Unless measurement approaches that can distinguish between different types of exchange flux are used, there is potential for hyporheic exchange fluxes to be misinterpreted as river-aquifer exchange fluxes, with possible implications for water resource management decisions.
- Bank storage
- Groundwater discharge
- Groundwater-surface water interaction
- Hyporheic exchange
- River recharge, environmental tracers