Soil Infiltration as a Factor in Stream Flashiness, North Carolina Piedmont
Due to increased soil erosion and changes in land use in recent years, stream flashiness has become an issue of concern in the Piedmont Region of North Carolina. The region has experienced considerable population growth over the past several decades, leading to large-scale changes in land cover and management. This study sought to determine if soil infiltration rate is an important factor in connecting changes in land use to increased stream flashiness in the North Carolina Piedmont. To accomplish this objective, a miniature disk infiltrometer was used to calculate soil infiltration rates at four experimental study sites: “Previously Cultivated Farmland,” “Cultivated Farmland,” “Urban Grassland,” and “Forest.” Each site had a different land use history, and the “Urban Grassland” site was from within a watershed with a particularly flashy stream. Each study area was located within the town of Davidson, North Carolina, a small college town of about 12,000 people located in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. The results suggested that land use historyâ€”especially as it applies to soil compactionâ€”plays a role in determining soil infiltration rate. However, soil infiltration rate was not found to affect stream flashiness. Therefore, stream flashiness in the Piedmont Region of North Carolina is likely affected by other factors such as topography, stream morphology, vegetative cover, or watershed shape and size rather than by soil infiltration. These factors are more likely the primary factors responsible for flash flooding in the Piedmont Region.