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Contributing sources to baseflow in pre-alpine headwaters using spatial snapshot sampling


Fischer, Benjamin M C; Rinderer, Michael; Schneider, Philipp; Ewen, Tracy; Seibert, Jan (2015). Contributing sources to baseflow in pre-alpine headwaters using spatial snapshot sampling. Hydrological Processes, 29(26):5321-5336.

Abstract

Mountainous headwaters consist of different landscape units including forests, meadows and wetlands. In these headwaters it is unclear which landscape units contribute what percentage to baseflow. In this study, we analysed spatiotemporal differences in baseflow isotope and hydrochemistry to identify catchment-scale runoff contribution. Three baseflow snapshot sampling campaigns were performed in the Swiss pre-alpine headwater catchment of the Zwäckentobel (4.25km2) and six of its adjacent subcatchments. The spatial and temporal variability of δ2H, Ca, DOC, AT, pH, SO4, Mg and H4SiO4 of streamflow, groundwater and spring water samples was analysed and related to catchment area and wetland percentage using bivariate and multivariate methods. Our study found that in the six subcatchments, with variable arrangements of landscape units, the inter- and intra catchment variability of isotopic and hydrochemical compositions was small and generally not significant. Stream samples were distinctly different from shallow groundwater. An upper spring zone located near the water divide above 1,400 m and a larger wetland were identified by their distinct spatial isotopic and hydrochemical composition. The upstream wetland percentage was not correlated to the hydrochemical streamflow composition, suggesting that wetlands were less connected and act as passive features with a negligible contribution to baseflow runoff. The isotopic and hydrochemical composition of baseflow changed slightly from the upper spring zone towards the subcatchment outlets and corresponded to the signature of deep groundwater. Our results confirm the need and benefits of spatially distributed snapshot sampling to derive process understanding of heterogeneous headwaters during baseflow.

Abstract

Mountainous headwaters consist of different landscape units including forests, meadows and wetlands. In these headwaters it is unclear which landscape units contribute what percentage to baseflow. In this study, we analysed spatiotemporal differences in baseflow isotope and hydrochemistry to identify catchment-scale runoff contribution. Three baseflow snapshot sampling campaigns were performed in the Swiss pre-alpine headwater catchment of the Zwäckentobel (4.25km2) and six of its adjacent subcatchments. The spatial and temporal variability of δ2H, Ca, DOC, AT, pH, SO4, Mg and H4SiO4 of streamflow, groundwater and spring water samples was analysed and related to catchment area and wetland percentage using bivariate and multivariate methods. Our study found that in the six subcatchments, with variable arrangements of landscape units, the inter- and intra catchment variability of isotopic and hydrochemical compositions was small and generally not significant. Stream samples were distinctly different from shallow groundwater. An upper spring zone located near the water divide above 1,400 m and a larger wetland were identified by their distinct spatial isotopic and hydrochemical composition. The upstream wetland percentage was not correlated to the hydrochemical streamflow composition, suggesting that wetlands were less connected and act as passive features with a negligible contribution to baseflow runoff. The isotopic and hydrochemical composition of baseflow changed slightly from the upper spring zone towards the subcatchment outlets and corresponded to the signature of deep groundwater. Our results confirm the need and benefits of spatially distributed snapshot sampling to derive process understanding of heterogeneous headwaters during baseflow.

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11 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography
Dewey Decimal Classification:910 Geography & travel
Language:English
Date:2015
Deposited On:06 Aug 2015 09:56
Last Modified:08 Dec 2017 13:41
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Inc.
ISSN:0885-6087
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1002/hyp.10529

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