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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-2019-59
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2019-59
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 20 Feb 2019

Research article | 20 Feb 2019

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.

Spatially-distributed tracer-aided runoff modelling and dynamics of storage and water ages in a permafrost-influenced catchment

Thea I. Piovano1, Doerthe Tetzlaff2,3,1, Sean K. Carey4, Nadine J. Shatilla4, Aaron Smith3, and Chris Soulsby1 Thea I. Piovano et al.
  • 1Northern Rivers Institute, School of Geosciences, University of Aberdeen, AB24 3UF, UK
  • 2Department of Geography, Humboldt University Berlin, 12489 Berlin, Germany
  • 3IGB Leibniz Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries, 12587 Berlin, Germany
  • 4School of Geography and Earth Sciences, McMaster University, Hamilton, L8S 4K1, Ontario

Abstract. Permafrost strongly controls hydrological processes in cold regions, and our understanding of how changes in seasonal and perennial frozen ground disposition and linked storage dynamics affects runoff generation processes remains limited. Storage dynamics and water redistribution are influenced by the seasonal variability and spatial heterogeneity of frozen ground, snow accumulation and melt. Stable isotopes provide a potentially useful technique to quantify the dynamics of water sources, flow paths and ages; yet few studies have employed isotope data in permafrost-influenced catchments. Here, we applied the conceptual model STARR (Spatially distributed Tracer-Aided Rainfall-Runoff model), which facilitates fully distributed simulations of hydrological storage dynamics and runoff processes, isotopic composition and water ages. We adapted this model to a subarctic catchment in Yukon Territory, Canada, with a time-variable implementation of field capacity to include the influence of thaw dynamics. A multi-criteria calibration based on stream flow, snow water equivalent and isotopes was applied to three years of data. The integration of isotope data in the spatially distributed model provided the basis to quantify spatio-temporal dynamics of water storage and ages, emphasizing the importance of thaw layer dynamics in mixing and damping the melt signal. By using the model conceptualisation of spatially and temporally variant storage, this study demonstrates the ability of tracer-aided modelling to capture thaw layer dynamics that cause mixing and damping of the isotopic melt signal.

Thea I. Piovano et al.
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Interactive discussion
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AC: Author comment | RC: Referee comment | SC: Short comment | EC: Editor comment
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Thea I. Piovano et al.
Thea I. Piovano et al.
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Short summary
We adapted the spatially-distributed, tracer-aided model STARR, to a permafrost-influenced catchment in Yukon Territory, with a time-variable implementation of field capacity to capture thaw layer dynamics in time and space. The model was subject to multi-criteria calibration with multi-year field data. This study demonstrates the value of the integration of isotope data in a spatially distributed model to quantify catchment water storage and age dynamics in a permafrost influenced environment.
We adapted the spatially-distributed, tracer-aided model STARR, to a permafrost-influenced...
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