Articles | Volume 25, issue 12
14 Dec 2021
Comment/reply |  | 14 Dec 2021

Comment on “A comparison of catchment travel times and storage deduced from deuterium and tritium tracers using StorAge Selection functions” by Rodriguez et al. (2021)

Michael Kilgour Stewart, Uwe Morgenstern, and Ian Cartwright

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Irrigation return flow causing a nitrate hotspot and denitrification imprints in groundwater at Tinwald, New Zealand
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Aggregation effects on tritium-based mean transit times and young water fractions in spatially heterogeneous catchments and groundwater systems
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Cited articles

Benettin, P., Soulsby, C., Birkel, C., Tetzlaff, D., Botter, G., and Rinaldo, A.: Using SAS functions and high-resolution isotope data to unravel travel time distributions in headwater catchments, Water Resour. Res., 53, 1864–1878,, 2017. 
Botter, G., Bertuzzo, E., and Rinaldo, A.: Catchment residence and travel time distributions: The master equation, Geophys. Res. Lett., 38, L11403,, 2011. 
Cartwright, I., Morgenstern, U., Howcroft, W., Hofmann, H., Armit, R., Stewart, M., Burton, C., and Irvine, D.: The variation and controls of mean transit times in Australian headwater catchments, Hydrol. Process., 34, 4034–4048,, 2020. 
Cartwright, I., Irvine, D., Burton, C., and Uwe Morgenstern, U.: Assessing the controls and uncertainties on mean transit times in contrasting headwater catchments, J. Hydrol., 557, 16–29,, 2018. 
Dinçer, T., Payne, B. R., Florkowski, T., Martinec, J., and Tongiorgi, E.: Snowmelt runoff from measurements of tritium and oxygen-18, Water Resour. Res., 6, 110–124, 1970. 
Short summary
The combined use of deuterium and tritium to determine travel time distributions in streams is an important development in catchment hydrology (Rodriguez et al., 2021). This comment, however, argues that their results do not generally invalidate the truncation hypothesis of Stewart et al. (2010) (i.e. that stable isotopes underestimate travel times through catchments), as they imply, but asserts instead that the hypothesis still applies to many other catchments.