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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-2019-84
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2019-84
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 06 Mar 2019

Research article | 06 Mar 2019

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

Assessing the influence of soil freeze-thaw cycles on catchment water storage – flux – age interactions using a tracer-aided ecohydrological model

Aaron A. Smith1, Doerthe Tetzlaff1,2,3, Hjalmar Laudon4, Marco Maneta5, and Chris Soulsby3 Aaron A. Smith et al.
  • 1IGB Leibniz Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries Berlin, Berlin, Germany
  • 2Humboldt University Berlin, Berlin, Germany
  • 3Northern Rivers Institute, School of Geosciences, University of Aberdeen, UK
  • 4Department of Forest Ecology and Management, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Umeå, Sweden
  • 5Geosciences Department, University of Montana, Missoula, MT

Abstract. Ecohydrological models are powerful tools to quantify the effects that independent fluxes may have on catchment storage dynamics. Here, we adapted the tracer-aided ecohydrological model, EcH2O-iso, for cold regions with the explicit conceptualisation of dynamic soil freeze-thaw processes. We tested the model at the data-rich Krycklan site in northern Sweden with multi-criteria calibration using discharge, stream isotopes and soil moisture in 3 nested catchments. We utilized the model’s incorporation of ecohydrological partitioning to evaluate the effect of soil frost on evaporation and transpiration water ages, and thereby the age of source waters. The simulation of stream discharge, isotopes, and soil moisture variability captured the seasonal dynamics at all three stream sites and both soil sites, with notable reductions in discharge and soil moisture during the winter months due to the development of the frost front. Stream isotope simulations reproduced the response to the isotopically-depleted pulse of spring snowmelt. The soil frost dynamics adequately captured the spatial differences in the freezing-front throughout the winter period, despite no direct calibration of soil frost to measured soil temperature. The simulated soil frost indicated a maximum freeze-depth of 0.25 m below forest vegetation. Water ages of evaporation and transpiration reflect the influence of snowmelt-inputs, with a high proclivity of old water (pre-winter storage) at the beginning of the growing season and a mix of snowmelt and precipitation (young water) toward the end of the summer. Soil frost had an early season influence of the transpiration water ages, with water pre-dating the snowpack mainly sustaining vegetation at the start of the growing season. Given the long-term expected change in the energy-balance of northern climates, the approach presented provides a framework for quantifying the interactions of ecohydrological fluxes and waters stored in the soil and understanding how these may be impacted in future.

Aaron A. Smith et al.
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