Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2022-48
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2022-48
 
08 Feb 2022
08 Feb 2022
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal HESS.

Studying the dynamic of a high alpine catchment based on multiple natural tracers

Anthony Michelon1, Natalie Ceperley2, Harsh Beria3, Joshua Larsen4, Torsten Vennemann1, and Bettina Schaefli1,5 Anthony Michelon et al.
  • 1Institute of Earth Surface Dynamic (IDYST), Faculty of Geosciences and Environment (FGSE), University of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland
  • 2Institute of Geography (GIUB) and Oeschger Center of Climate Change Research (OCCR), University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland
  • 3Department of Environmental Systems Science, ETH Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
  • 4School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK
  • 5Institute of Geography, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland

Abstract. Hydrological processes in high elevation catchments are largely influenced by snow accumulation and melt, as well as summer rainfall input. The use of the stable isotopes of water as a natural tracer has become popular over recent years to characterize water flow paths and storage in such environments, in conjunction with electric conductivity (EC) and water temperature measurements. In this work, we analyzed in detail the potential of year round samples of these natural tracers to characterize hydrological processes in a snow-dominated Alpine catchment. Our results underline that water temperature measurements in springs, groundwater and in-stream are promising to trace flow path depth and relative flow rates. The stable isotopes of water are shown here to be particularly valuable to get insights into the interplay of subsurface flow and direct snowmelt input to the stream during winter and early snow melt periods. Our results underline the critical role of subsurface flow during all melt periods and the presence of snowmelt even during winter base flow. We furthermore discuss why reliably detecting the role of subsurface flow requires year-round water sampling in such environments. A key conclusion of our work is the added value of soil and water temperature measurements to interpret EC and isotope analyses, by giving additional information on snow-free periods and on flow path depths.

Anthony Michelon et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on hess-2022-48', Anonymous Referee #1, 10 Apr 2022
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Natalie Ceperley, 03 Oct 2022
  • RC2: 'Comment on hess-2022-48', Anonymous Referee #2, 18 Aug 2022
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Natalie Ceperley, 03 Oct 2022
  • RC3: 'Comment on hess-2022-48', Anonymous Referee #3, 26 Aug 2022
    • AC3: 'Reply on RC3', Natalie Ceperley, 03 Oct 2022

Anthony Michelon et al.

Anthony Michelon et al.

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Short summary
Hydrological processes in high elevation catchments are largely influenced by snow accumulation and melt. For this work, we collected and analyzed more than 2800 water samples (temperature, electric conductivity and stable isotopes of water) to characterize the hydrological processes in such Alpine environment. Our results underline the critical role of subsurface flow during all melt periods and the presence of snowmelt even during the winter periods.