Articles | Volume 14, issue 8
13 Aug 2010
 | 13 Aug 2010

Integrated response and transit time distributions of watersheds by combining hydrograph separation and long-term transit time modeling

M. C. Roa-García and M. Weiler

Abstract. We present a new modeling approach analyzing and predicting the Transit Time Distribution (TTD) and the Response Time Distribution (RTD) from hourly to annual time scales as two distinct hydrological processes. The model integrates Isotope Hydrograph Separation (IHS) and the Instantaneous Unit Hydrograph (IUH) approach as a tool to provide a more realistic description of transit and response time of water in catchments. Individual event simulations and parameterizations were combined with long-term baseflow simulation and parameterizations; this provides a comprehensive picture of the catchment response for a long time span for the hydraulic and isotopic processes. The proposed method was tested in three Andean headwater catchments to compare the effects of land use on hydrological response and solute transport. Results show that the characteristics of events and antecedent conditions have a significant influence on TTD and RTD, but in general the RTD of the grassland dominated catchment is concentrated in the shorter time spans and has a higher cumulative TTD, while the forest dominated catchment has a relatively higher response distribution and lower cumulative TTD. The catchment where wetlands concentrate shows a flashier response, but wetlands also appear to prolong transit time.