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Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2017-416
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2017-416
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 31 Jul 2017

Submitted as: research article | 31 Jul 2017

Review status
This preprint was under review for the journal HESS but the revision was not accepted.

How runoff components affect the export of DOC and nitrate: a long-term and high-frequency analysis

Michael P. Schwab1,2, Julian Klaus1, Laurent Pfister1, and Markus Weiler2 Michael P. Schwab et al.
  • 1Catchment and Eco-Hydrology Research Group, Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology, Belvaux, 4422, Luxemburg
  • 2Hydrology, Faculty of Environment and Natural Resources, University of Freiburg, Freiburg, 79098, Germany

Abstract. We monitored dissolved organic carbon (DOC) and nitrate concentrations and fluxes in situ with a UV-Vis spectrometer for two years at a high temporal resolution of 15 minutes in the forested Weierbach headwater catchment. The catchment exhibits a characteristic double peak runoff response to incident rainfall during periods with wet initial conditions. When initial conditions are dry, only the first discharge peak occurs. During our observations, both DOC and nitrate concentrations increased during the first discharge peak, while only nitrate concentrations were elevated during the second discharge peak. Relying on additional biweekly end-member data of precipitation, throughfall, soil water and groundwater, we linked the first peak to near surface flowpaths and the second peak to shallow groundwater reactions and subsurface flowpaths. The mass export of DOC and nitrate is largely controlled by the discharge yield. Nevertheless, this relationship is altered by changing flowpaths during different wetness conditions in the catchment. Due to the absence of second discharge peaks during dry conditions, the DOC export is more relevant and the nitrate export is less relevant during dry catchment states. The study highlights the benefits of in-situ, long-term, and high-frequency monitoring for comparing DOC and nitrate export with runoff components that are changing rapidly during events as well as gradually between seasons.

Michael P. Schwab et al.

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Interactive discussion

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Michael P. Schwab et al.

Michael P. Schwab et al.

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