Storage, mixing and fluxes of water in the critical zone across northern environments inferred by stable isotopes of soil water

Matthias Sprenger (Corresponding Author), Doerthe Tetzlaff, James Buttle, Sean K. Carey, James P. McNamara, Hjalmar Laudon, Nadine J. Shatilla, Chris Soulsby

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Abstract

Quantifying soil water storage, mixing and release via recharge, transpiration and evaporation is essential for a better understanding of critical zone processes. Here, we integrate stable isotope (H and O of soil water, precipitation, and groundwater) and hydrometric (soil moisture) data from five long-term experimental catchments along a hydroclimatic gradient across northern latitudes: Dry Creek (USA), Bruntland Burn (Scotland), Dorset (Canada), Krycklan (Sweden), and Wolf Creek (Canada). Within each catchment, six to eleven isotope sampling campaigns occurred at two to four sampling locations over at least one year. Analysis for H and O in the bulk pore water was done for >2500 soil samples either by cryogenic extraction (Dry Creek) or by direct equilibration (other sites). The results showed a similar general pattern that soil water isotope variability reflected the seasonality of the precipitation input signal. However, pronounced differences among sampling locations occurred regarding the isotopic fractionation due to evaporation. We found that antecedent precipitation volumes mainly governed the fractionation signal, temperature and evaporation rates were of secondary importance, and soil moisture played only a minor role in the variability of soil water evaporation fractionation across the hydro-climatic gradient. We further observed that soil waters beneath conifer trees were more fractionated than beneath heather shrubs or red oak trees, indicating higher soil evaporation rates in coniferous forests. Sampling locations closer to streams were more damped and depleted in their stable isotopic composition than hillslope sites, revealing increased subsurface mixing towards the saturated zone and a preferential recharge of winter precipitation. Bulk soil waters generally comprised a high share of waters older than 14 days, which indicates that the water in soil pores are usually not fully replaced by recent infiltration events. The presented stable isotope data of soil water were, thus, a useful tool to track the spatial variability of water fluxes within and from the critical zone. Such data provide invaluable information to improve the representation of critical zone processes in spatially-distributed hydrological models.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1720-1737
Number of pages18
JournalHydrological Processes
Volume32
Issue number12
Early online date1 Jun 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2018

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stable isotope
soil water
evaporation
water
sampling
recharge
fractionation
soil moisture
isotope
catchment
soil
phreatic zone
isotopic fractionation
coniferous forest
water storage
hillslope
transpiration
coniferous tree
seasonality
porewater

Keywords

  • stable isotopes
  • soil hydrology
  • fractionation
  • Northern Environments
  • evaporation
  • Critical Zone

Cite this

Storage, mixing and fluxes of water in the critical zone across northern environments inferred by stable isotopes of soil water. / Sprenger, Matthias (Corresponding Author); Tetzlaff, Doerthe; Buttle, James; Carey, Sean K.; McNamara, James P.; Laudon, Hjalmar; Shatilla, Nadine J.; Soulsby, Chris.

In: Hydrological Processes, Vol. 32, No. 12, 15.06.2018, p. 1720-1737.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Sprenger, Matthias ; Tetzlaff, Doerthe ; Buttle, James ; Carey, Sean K. ; McNamara, James P. ; Laudon, Hjalmar ; Shatilla, Nadine J. ; Soulsby, Chris. / Storage, mixing and fluxes of water in the critical zone across northern environments inferred by stable isotopes of soil water. In: Hydrological Processes. 2018 ; Vol. 32, No. 12. pp. 1720-1737.
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T1 - Storage, mixing and fluxes of water in the critical zone across northern environments inferred by stable isotopes of soil water

AU - Sprenger, Matthias

AU - Tetzlaff, Doerthe

AU - Buttle, James

AU - Carey, Sean K.

AU - McNamara, James P.

AU - Laudon, Hjalmar

AU - Shatilla, Nadine J.

AU - Soulsby, Chris

N1 - We thank Audrey Innes for isotope analysis at University of Aberdeen for Bruntland Burn and Krycklan sites, Johannes Tiwari (SLU) for isotope sampling in Krycklan, Pernilla Löfvenius (SLU) for providing PET data for Krycklan (via SITES), and Jeff McDonnell and Kim Janzen (University of Saskatchewan) for soil water isotope analysis for the Dorset and Wolf Creek sites. The Krycklan part was funded by the KAW Branch-Point project. We acknowledge the funding from the European Research Council (ERC, project GA 335910 VeWa). We thank the Editor and three anonymous reviewers for their critical comments during the peer-review process.

PY - 2018/6/15

Y1 - 2018/6/15

N2 - Quantifying soil water storage, mixing and release via recharge, transpiration and evaporation is essential for a better understanding of critical zone processes. Here, we integrate stable isotope (H and O of soil water, precipitation, and groundwater) and hydrometric (soil moisture) data from five long-term experimental catchments along a hydroclimatic gradient across northern latitudes: Dry Creek (USA), Bruntland Burn (Scotland), Dorset (Canada), Krycklan (Sweden), and Wolf Creek (Canada). Within each catchment, six to eleven isotope sampling campaigns occurred at two to four sampling locations over at least one year. Analysis for H and O in the bulk pore water was done for >2500 soil samples either by cryogenic extraction (Dry Creek) or by direct equilibration (other sites). The results showed a similar general pattern that soil water isotope variability reflected the seasonality of the precipitation input signal. However, pronounced differences among sampling locations occurred regarding the isotopic fractionation due to evaporation. We found that antecedent precipitation volumes mainly governed the fractionation signal, temperature and evaporation rates were of secondary importance, and soil moisture played only a minor role in the variability of soil water evaporation fractionation across the hydro-climatic gradient. We further observed that soil waters beneath conifer trees were more fractionated than beneath heather shrubs or red oak trees, indicating higher soil evaporation rates in coniferous forests. Sampling locations closer to streams were more damped and depleted in their stable isotopic composition than hillslope sites, revealing increased subsurface mixing towards the saturated zone and a preferential recharge of winter precipitation. Bulk soil waters generally comprised a high share of waters older than 14 days, which indicates that the water in soil pores are usually not fully replaced by recent infiltration events. The presented stable isotope data of soil water were, thus, a useful tool to track the spatial variability of water fluxes within and from the critical zone. Such data provide invaluable information to improve the representation of critical zone processes in spatially-distributed hydrological models.

AB - Quantifying soil water storage, mixing and release via recharge, transpiration and evaporation is essential for a better understanding of critical zone processes. Here, we integrate stable isotope (H and O of soil water, precipitation, and groundwater) and hydrometric (soil moisture) data from five long-term experimental catchments along a hydroclimatic gradient across northern latitudes: Dry Creek (USA), Bruntland Burn (Scotland), Dorset (Canada), Krycklan (Sweden), and Wolf Creek (Canada). Within each catchment, six to eleven isotope sampling campaigns occurred at two to four sampling locations over at least one year. Analysis for H and O in the bulk pore water was done for >2500 soil samples either by cryogenic extraction (Dry Creek) or by direct equilibration (other sites). The results showed a similar general pattern that soil water isotope variability reflected the seasonality of the precipitation input signal. However, pronounced differences among sampling locations occurred regarding the isotopic fractionation due to evaporation. We found that antecedent precipitation volumes mainly governed the fractionation signal, temperature and evaporation rates were of secondary importance, and soil moisture played only a minor role in the variability of soil water evaporation fractionation across the hydro-climatic gradient. We further observed that soil waters beneath conifer trees were more fractionated than beneath heather shrubs or red oak trees, indicating higher soil evaporation rates in coniferous forests. Sampling locations closer to streams were more damped and depleted in their stable isotopic composition than hillslope sites, revealing increased subsurface mixing towards the saturated zone and a preferential recharge of winter precipitation. Bulk soil waters generally comprised a high share of waters older than 14 days, which indicates that the water in soil pores are usually not fully replaced by recent infiltration events. The presented stable isotope data of soil water were, thus, a useful tool to track the spatial variability of water fluxes within and from the critical zone. Such data provide invaluable information to improve the representation of critical zone processes in spatially-distributed hydrological models.

KW - stable isotopes

KW - soil hydrology

KW - fractionation

KW - Northern Environments

KW - evaporation

KW - Critical Zone

U2 - 10.1002/hyp.13135

DO - 10.1002/hyp.13135

M3 - Article

VL - 32

SP - 1720

EP - 1737

JO - Hydrological Processes

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ER -