Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2021-512
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2021-512
22 Oct 2021
 | 22 Oct 2021
Status: this preprint has been withdrawn by the authors.

Quantifying the glacial meltwater contribution to streams in mountainous regions using highly resolved stable water isotope measurements

Philipp Wanner, Noemi Buri, Kevin Wyss, Andreas Zischg, Rolf Weingartner, Jan Baumgartner, Benjamin Berger, and Christoph Wanner

Abstract. This study aims to determine the contribution of glacial meltwater to streams in mountainous regions based on stable water isotope measurements (δ18O and δ2H). For this purpose, three partially glaciated catchments were selected as the study area in the central Swiss Alps being representative of catchments that are used for hydropower energy production in Alpine regions. The glacial meltwater contribution to the catchments’ stream discharges was evaluated based on high-resolution δ18O and δ2H measurements of the end-members that contribute to the stream discharge (ice, rain, snow) and of the discharging streams. The glacial meltwater contribution to the stream discharges could be unequivocally quantified after the snowmelt in August and September when most of the annual glacial meltwater discharge occurs. In August and September, the glacial meltwater contribution to the stream discharges corresponds to up to 95 ± 2 % and to 28.7 % ± 5 % of the total annual discharge in the evaluated catchments. The high glacial meltwater contribution demonstrates that the mountainous stream discharges in August and September will probably strongly decrease in the future due to global warming-induced deglaciation, which will be, however, likely compensated by higher discharge rates in winter and spring. Nevertheless, the changing mountainous streamflow regimes in the future will pose a challenge for hydropower energy production in the mountainous areas. Overall, this study provides a successful example of an Alpine catchment monitoring strategy to quantify the glacial meltwater contribution to stream discharges based on stable isotope water data, which leads to a better validation of existing modelling studies and which can be adapted to other mountainous regions.

This preprint has been withdrawn.

Publisher's note: Copernicus Publications remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims made in the text, published maps, institutional affiliations, or any other geographical representation in this preprint. The responsibility to include appropriate place names lies with the authors.
Philipp Wanner, Noemi Buri, Kevin Wyss, Andreas Zischg, Rolf Weingartner, Jan Baumgartner, Benjamin Berger, and Christoph Wanner

Interactive discussion

Status: closed

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Review of hess-2021-512', Bettina Schaefli, 18 Nov 2021
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Philipp Wanner, 11 Mar 2022
  • RC2: 'Comment on hess-2021-512', Anonymous Referee #2, 29 Nov 2021
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Philipp Wanner, 11 Mar 2022
  • RC3: 'Comment on hess-2021-512', Anonymous Referee #3, 21 Dec 2021
    • AC3: 'Reply on RC3', Philipp Wanner, 11 Mar 2022

Interactive discussion

Status: closed

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Review of hess-2021-512', Bettina Schaefli, 18 Nov 2021
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Philipp Wanner, 11 Mar 2022
  • RC2: 'Comment on hess-2021-512', Anonymous Referee #2, 29 Nov 2021
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Philipp Wanner, 11 Mar 2022
  • RC3: 'Comment on hess-2021-512', Anonymous Referee #3, 21 Dec 2021
    • AC3: 'Reply on RC3', Philipp Wanner, 11 Mar 2022
Philipp Wanner, Noemi Buri, Kevin Wyss, Andreas Zischg, Rolf Weingartner, Jan Baumgartner, Benjamin Berger, and Christoph Wanner

Data sets

Discharge Data Giglibach, Steinwasser, Wendenwasser catchments Philipp Wanner, Noemi Buri, Kevin Wyss, Andreas Zischg, Rolf Weingartner, Jan Baumgartner, Benjamin Berger, Christoph Wanner https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.5571465

Philipp Wanner, Noemi Buri, Kevin Wyss, Andreas Zischg, Rolf Weingartner, Jan Baumgartner, Benjamin Berger, and Christoph Wanner

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Short summary
In this study, we quantified the glacial meltwater contribution to mountainous streams using high-resolution stable water isotope analysis. The glacial meltwater made up almost 28 % of the annual mountainous stream discharges. This high contribution demonstrates that the mountainous streamflow regimes will change in the future when the glacial meltwater contribution will disappear due to global warming posing a major challenge for hydropower energy production in mountainous regions.