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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-2018-205
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2018-205
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 02 May 2018

Research article | 02 May 2018

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. A revision of this manuscript was accepted for the journal Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (HESS) and is expected to appear here in due course.

Storage dynamics, hydrological connectivity and flux ages in a karst catchment: conceptual modelling using stable isotopes

Zhicai Zhang1,2,4, Xi Chen3,1, Chris Soulsby2, and Qinbo Cheng1,4 Zhicai Zhang et al.
  • 1State Key Laboratory of Hydrology-Water Resources and Hydraulic Engineering, Hohai University, Nanjing 210098, China
  • 2School of Geosciences, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen AB24 3UF, United Kingdom
  • 3Institute of Surface-Earth System Science, Tianjin University, Tianjin, China
  • 4College of hydrology and water resources, Hohai University, Nanjing 210098, China

Abstract. We integrated unique high temporal resolution hydrometric and isotope data to calibrate a catchment-scale conceptual flow-tracer model representing the two main landscape units of hillslopes, and depressions (with fast and slow flow systems) for cock-pit karst terrain. The model could track hourly water and isotope fluxes through each landscape unit, and we could estimate the associated storage and water age dynamics. This inferred that the fast flow reservoir in the depression had the smallest storage, the hillslope unit was intermediate, and the slow flow reservoir had the largest. The estimated mean ages of the hillslope unit, fast and slow flow reservoirs were 137, 326 and 493 days, respectively. Marked seasonal variability in hydroclimate conditions and associated water storage dynamics were the main drivers of non-stationary hydrological connectivity between the hillslope and depression. Meanwhile, the hydrological connectivity between the slow and fast slow reservoirs had reversible directionality, which was determined by the hydraulic head within each medium. Sinkholes can make an important hydrological connectivity between surface water and underground stream flow in the fast reservoir after heavy rain. New water recharges the underground stream via sinkholes, introducing younger water in the underground stream flow.

Zhicai Zhang et al.
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Interactive discussion
Status: closed
Status: closed
AC: Author comment | RC: Referee comment | SC: Short comment | EC: Editor comment
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Zhicai Zhang et al.
Zhicai Zhang et al.
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Latest update: 15 Dec 2018
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Short summary
In this study, a coupled water-tracer conceptual model was used to simulate flow, storage and isotope dynamics at hourly intervals in a karst catchment. This work highlighted that catchment outlet fluxes and ages in events were strongly influenced by sinkholes as well as the high sub-surface hydrological connectivity. Karst areas are dominated by young water ages during high flows and are therefore sensitive to pollution due to the high connectivity with the land surface.
In this study, a coupled water-tracer conceptual model was used to simulate flow, storage and...
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