5 years ago

Accounting for seasonal isotopic patterns of forest canopy intercepted precipitation in streamflow modeling

Forest canopy interception alters the isotopic tracer signal of precipitation leading to significant isotopic differences between open precipitation (δOP) and throughfall (δTF). This has important consequences for the tracer-based modeling of streamwater transit times. Some studies have suggested using a simple static correction to δOP by uniformly increasing it because δTF is rarely available for hydrological modeling. Here, we used data from a 38.5 ha spruce forested headwater catchment where three years of δOP and δTF were available to develop a data driven method that accounts for canopy effects on δOP. Changes in isotopic composition, defined as the difference δTF-δOP, varied seasonally with higher values during winter and lower values during summer. We used this pattern to derive a corrected δOP time series and analyzed the impact of using (1) δOP, (2) reference throughfall data (δTFref) and (3) the corrected δOP time series (δOPSine) in estimating the fraction of young water (Fyw ), i.e., the percentage of streamflow younger than two to three months. We found that Fyw derived from δOPSine came closer to δTFref in comparison to δOP. Thus, a seasonally-varying correction for δOP can be successfully used to infer δTF where it is not available and is superior to the method of using a fixed correction factor. Seasonal isotopic enrichment patterns should be accounted for when estimating Fyw and more generally in catchment hydrology studies using other tracer methods to reduce uncertainty.

Publisher URL: www.sciencedirect.com/science

DOI: S0022169417306674

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