Articles | Volume 23, issue 1
Research article
 | Highlight paper
18 Jan 2019
Research article | Highlight paper |  | 18 Jan 2019

Quantifying new water fractions and transit time distributions using ensemble hydrograph separation: theory and benchmark tests

James W. Kirchner

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New water fractions and their relationships to climate and catchment properties across Alpine rivers
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Seasonal dynamics and spatial patterns of soil moisture in a loess catchment
Shaozhen Liu, Ilja van Meerveld, Yali Zhao, Yunqiang Wang, and James W. Kirchner
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Toward a general calibration of the Swiss plate geophone system for fractional bedload transport
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Diel streamflow cycles suggest more sensitive snowmelt-driven streamflow to climate change than land surface modeling does
Sebastian A. Krogh, Lucia Scaff, James W. Kirchner, Beatrice Gordon, Gary Sterle, and Adrian Harpold
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Graphically interpreting how incision thresholds influence topographic and scaling properties of modeled landscapes
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Subject: Catchment hydrology | Techniques and Approaches: Mathematical applications
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Cited articles

Bansah, S. and Ali, G.: Evaluating the effects of tracer choice and end-member definitions on hydrograph separation results across nested, seasonally cold watersheds, Water Resour. Res., 53, 8851–8871,, 2017. 
Bayley, G. V. and Hammersley, J. M.: The effective number of independent observations in an autocorrelated time series, J. R. Stat. Soc., 8, 184–197,, 1946. 
Benettin, P., van der Velde, Y., van der Zee, S., Rinaldo, A., and Botter, G.: Chloride circulation in a lowland catchment and the formulation of transport by travel time distributions, Water Resour. Res., 49, 4619–4632,, 2013. 
Benettin, P., Kirchner, J., Rinaldo, A., and Botter, G.: Modeling chloride transport using travel-time distributions at Plynlimon, Wales, Water Resour. Res., 51, 3259–3276,, 2015. 
Benettin, P., Volkmann, T. H. M., von Freyberg, J., Frentress, J., Penna, D., Dawson, T. E., and Kirchner, J. W.: Effects of climatic seasonality on the isotopic composition of evaporating soil waters, Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 22, 2881–2890,, 2018. 

The requested paper has a corresponding corrigendum published. Please read the corrigendum first before downloading the article.

Short summary
How long does it take for raindrops to become streamflow? Here I propose a new approach to this old problem. I show how we can use time series of isotope data to measure the average fraction of same-day rainfall appearing in streamflow, even if this fraction varies greatly from rainstorm to rainstorm. I show that we can quantify how this fraction changes from small rainstorms to big ones, and from high flows to low flows, and how it changes with the lag time between rainfall and streamflow.