Towards integrating tracer studies in conceptual rainfall-runoff models: recent insights from a sub-arctic catchment in the Cairngorm mountains, Scotland.

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Abstract

Hydrochemical tracers (alkalinity and silica) were used in an end-member mixing analysis (EMMA) of runoff sources in the 10 km(2) Allt a' Mharcaidh catchment. A three-component mixing model was used to separate the hydrograph and estimate, to a first approximation, the range of likely contributions of overland flow, shallow subsurface storm flow, and groundwater to the annual hydrograph. A conceptual, catchment-scale rainfall-runoff model (DIY) was also used to separate the annual hydrograph in an equivalent set of flow paths. The two approaches produced independent representations of catchment hydrology that exhibited reasonable agreement. This showed the dominance of overland flow in generating storm runoff and the important role of groundwater inputs throughout the hydrological year. Moreover, DIY was successfully adapted to simulate stream chemistry (alkalinity) at daily time steps. Sensitivity analysis showed that whilst a distinct groundwater source at the catchment scale could be identified, there was considerable uncertainty in differentiating between overland flow and subsurface storm flow in both the EMMA and DIY applications. Nevertheless, the study indicated that the complementary use of tracer analysis in EMMA can increase the confidence in conceptual model structure. However, conclusions are restricted to the specific spatial and temporal scales examined. Copyright (C) 2003 John Wiley Sons, Ltd.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)403-416
Number of pages13
JournalHydrological Processes
Volume17
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2003

Keywords

  • hydrograph separation
  • flow paths
  • end-member mixing analysis
  • conceptual
  • modelling
  • hydrology
  • Cairngorms
  • Scotland
  • SCALE HYDROLOGICAL MODEL
  • ALLT-A-MHARCAIDH
  • HYDROGRAPH SEPARATION
  • STREAMWATER QUALITY
  • FLOW
  • HYDROGEOCHEMISTRY
  • CHEMISTRY
  • PATHWAYS

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