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Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 26 Jun 2018

Research article | 26 Jun 2018

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. A revision of the manuscript is under review for the journal Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (HESS).

Real-time observations of stable isotope dynamics during rainfall and throughfall events

Barbara Herbstritt, Benjamin Gralher, and Markus Weiler Barbara Herbstritt et al.
  • Hydrology, Faculty of Environment and Natural Resources, Albert-Ludwigs-University, Freiburg, 79098, Germany

Abstract. The isotopic composition of throughfall is affected by complex exchange, enrichment, and mixing processes in the tree canopy. All interception processes occur simultaneously in space and time generating a complex pattern of throughfall in amount and isotopic composition. This pattern ultimately cascades through the entire hydrologic system and is therefore crucial for studies in catchment hydrology where recharge areas are often forested while reference meteorological stations are generally in the open. For the quasi real-time observation of the isotopic composition of both gross precipitation and throughfall we developed an approach combining an off-the-shelf membrane contactor (Membrana) with a laser-based Cavity Ring-Down Spectrometer (CRDS, Picarro), obtaining isotope readings every two seconds. For the continuous observation of the temporal effect of interception processes two setups with two CRDS instruments in parallel were used analysing gross precipitation and throughfall simultaneously. All devices were kept small to minimize dead volume and thereby, with time-lags of only four minutes, to increase the temporal resolution of isotope observations. Complementarily, meteorological variables were recorded in high temporal resolution at the same location. Comparing these high temporally resolved continuous measurements with discrete liquid or event-based bulk samples, this approach proves to be a powerful tool towards more insight in the very dynamic processes contributing to interception during rainfall events.

Barbara Herbstritt et al.
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Barbara Herbstritt et al.
Barbara Herbstritt et al.
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Short summary
We describe a novel technique for the precise, quasi-realtime observation of water stable isotopes in gross precipitation and throughfall from tree canopies in parallel. Various processes (e.g. rainfall intensity, evapotranspiration, exchange with ambient vapor) are thereby controlling throughfall intensity and isotopic composition. The achieved temporal resolution now competes with common meteorological measurements thus enabling new ways to employ water stable isotopes in forested catchments.
We describe a novel technique for the precise, quasi-realtime observation of water stable...