Using stable isotope tracers to assess hydrological flow paths, residence times and landscape influences in a nested mesoscale catchment

P. Rodgers, Christopher Soulsby, S. Waldron, Doerthe Tetzlaff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

80 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

delta(18)O measurements in precipitation and stream waters were used to investigate hydrological flow paths and C, residence times at nested spatial scales in the mesoscale (233 km(2)) River Feugh catchment in the northeast of Scotland over the 2001-2002 hydrological year. Precipitation 6180 exhibited strong seasonal variation, which although C damped within the catchment, was reflected in stream water at six sampling sites. This allowed 8180 variations to be used to infer the relative influence of soil-derived storm flows with a seasonally variable isotopic signature, and groundwater of apparently more constant isotopic composition. Periodic regression analysis was then used to examine the sub-catchment difference using an exponential flow model to provide indicative estimates of mean stream water residence times, which varied between approximately 3 and 14 months. This showed that the effects of increasing scale on estimated mean stream water residence time was minimal beyond that of the smallest (ca. 1 km(2)) headwater catchment scale. Instead, the interaction of catchment soil cover and topography appeared to be the dominant controlling influence. Where sub-catchments had extensive peat coverage, responsive hydrological pathways produced seasonally variable 6180 signatures in runoff with short mean residence times (ca. 3 months). In contrast, areas dominated by steeper slopes, more freely draining soils and larger groundwater storage in shallow valley-bottom aquifers, deeper flow paths allow for more effective mixing and damping of 8180 indicating longer residence times (> 12 months). These insights from 6180 measurements extend the hydrological understanding of the Feugh catchment gained from previous geochemical tracer studies, and demonstrate the utility of isotope tracers in investigating the interaction of hydrological processes and catchment characteristics at larger spatial scales.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)139-155
Number of pages16
JournalHydrology and Earth System Sciences
Volume9
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2005

Keywords

  • different spatial scales
  • Sub Arctic catchment
  • Hydrograph separations
  • contaminant transport
  • Cairngorm mountains
  • Scottish catchment
  • subsurface flow
  • event water
  • Scotland
  • models

Cite this

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title = "Using stable isotope tracers to assess hydrological flow paths, residence times and landscape influences in a nested mesoscale catchment",
abstract = "delta(18)O measurements in precipitation and stream waters were used to investigate hydrological flow paths and C, residence times at nested spatial scales in the mesoscale (233 km(2)) River Feugh catchment in the northeast of Scotland over the 2001-2002 hydrological year. Precipitation 6180 exhibited strong seasonal variation, which although C damped within the catchment, was reflected in stream water at six sampling sites. This allowed 8180 variations to be used to infer the relative influence of soil-derived storm flows with a seasonally variable isotopic signature, and groundwater of apparently more constant isotopic composition. Periodic regression analysis was then used to examine the sub-catchment difference using an exponential flow model to provide indicative estimates of mean stream water residence times, which varied between approximately 3 and 14 months. This showed that the effects of increasing scale on estimated mean stream water residence time was minimal beyond that of the smallest (ca. 1 km(2)) headwater catchment scale. Instead, the interaction of catchment soil cover and topography appeared to be the dominant controlling influence. Where sub-catchments had extensive peat coverage, responsive hydrological pathways produced seasonally variable 6180 signatures in runoff with short mean residence times (ca. 3 months). In contrast, areas dominated by steeper slopes, more freely draining soils and larger groundwater storage in shallow valley-bottom aquifers, deeper flow paths allow for more effective mixing and damping of 8180 indicating longer residence times (> 12 months). These insights from 6180 measurements extend the hydrological understanding of the Feugh catchment gained from previous geochemical tracer studies, and demonstrate the utility of isotope tracers in investigating the interaction of hydrological processes and catchment characteristics at larger spatial scales.",
keywords = "different spatial scales, Sub Arctic catchment, Hydrograph separations, contaminant transport, Cairngorm mountains, Scottish catchment, subsurface flow, event water, Scotland, models",
author = "P. Rodgers and Christopher Soulsby and S. Waldron and Doerthe Tetzlaff",
year = "2005",
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language = "English",
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pages = "139--155",
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TY - JOUR

T1 - Using stable isotope tracers to assess hydrological flow paths, residence times and landscape influences in a nested mesoscale catchment

AU - Rodgers, P.

AU - Soulsby, Christopher

AU - Waldron, S.

AU - Tetzlaff, Doerthe

PY - 2005

Y1 - 2005

N2 - delta(18)O measurements in precipitation and stream waters were used to investigate hydrological flow paths and C, residence times at nested spatial scales in the mesoscale (233 km(2)) River Feugh catchment in the northeast of Scotland over the 2001-2002 hydrological year. Precipitation 6180 exhibited strong seasonal variation, which although C damped within the catchment, was reflected in stream water at six sampling sites. This allowed 8180 variations to be used to infer the relative influence of soil-derived storm flows with a seasonally variable isotopic signature, and groundwater of apparently more constant isotopic composition. Periodic regression analysis was then used to examine the sub-catchment difference using an exponential flow model to provide indicative estimates of mean stream water residence times, which varied between approximately 3 and 14 months. This showed that the effects of increasing scale on estimated mean stream water residence time was minimal beyond that of the smallest (ca. 1 km(2)) headwater catchment scale. Instead, the interaction of catchment soil cover and topography appeared to be the dominant controlling influence. Where sub-catchments had extensive peat coverage, responsive hydrological pathways produced seasonally variable 6180 signatures in runoff with short mean residence times (ca. 3 months). In contrast, areas dominated by steeper slopes, more freely draining soils and larger groundwater storage in shallow valley-bottom aquifers, deeper flow paths allow for more effective mixing and damping of 8180 indicating longer residence times (> 12 months). These insights from 6180 measurements extend the hydrological understanding of the Feugh catchment gained from previous geochemical tracer studies, and demonstrate the utility of isotope tracers in investigating the interaction of hydrological processes and catchment characteristics at larger spatial scales.

AB - delta(18)O measurements in precipitation and stream waters were used to investigate hydrological flow paths and C, residence times at nested spatial scales in the mesoscale (233 km(2)) River Feugh catchment in the northeast of Scotland over the 2001-2002 hydrological year. Precipitation 6180 exhibited strong seasonal variation, which although C damped within the catchment, was reflected in stream water at six sampling sites. This allowed 8180 variations to be used to infer the relative influence of soil-derived storm flows with a seasonally variable isotopic signature, and groundwater of apparently more constant isotopic composition. Periodic regression analysis was then used to examine the sub-catchment difference using an exponential flow model to provide indicative estimates of mean stream water residence times, which varied between approximately 3 and 14 months. This showed that the effects of increasing scale on estimated mean stream water residence time was minimal beyond that of the smallest (ca. 1 km(2)) headwater catchment scale. Instead, the interaction of catchment soil cover and topography appeared to be the dominant controlling influence. Where sub-catchments had extensive peat coverage, responsive hydrological pathways produced seasonally variable 6180 signatures in runoff with short mean residence times (ca. 3 months). In contrast, areas dominated by steeper slopes, more freely draining soils and larger groundwater storage in shallow valley-bottom aquifers, deeper flow paths allow for more effective mixing and damping of 8180 indicating longer residence times (> 12 months). These insights from 6180 measurements extend the hydrological understanding of the Feugh catchment gained from previous geochemical tracer studies, and demonstrate the utility of isotope tracers in investigating the interaction of hydrological processes and catchment characteristics at larger spatial scales.

KW - different spatial scales

KW - Sub Arctic catchment

KW - Hydrograph separations

KW - contaminant transport

KW - Cairngorm mountains

KW - Scottish catchment

KW - subsurface flow

KW - event water

KW - Scotland

KW - models

U2 - 10.5194/hess-9-139-2005

DO - 10.5194/hess-9-139-2005

M3 - Article

VL - 9

SP - 139

EP - 155

JO - Hydrology and Earth System Sciences

JF - Hydrology and Earth System Sciences

SN - 1027-5606

IS - 3

ER -