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Research article2018Peer reviewedOpen access

Lessons learned from monitoring the stable water isotopic variability in precipitation and streamflow across a snow-dominated subarctic catchment

Lyon, Steve W.; Ploum, Stefan W.; van der Velde, Ype; Rocher-Ros, Gerard; Morth, Carl-Magnus; Giesler, Reiner

Abstract

This empirical study explores shifts in stable water isotopic composition for a subarctic catchment located in northern Sweden as it transitions from spring freshet to summer low flows. Relative changes in the isotopic composition of streamflow across the main catchment and fifteen nested subcatchments are characterized in relation to the isotopic composition of precipitation. With our sampling campaign, we explore the variability in stream-water isotopic composition that originates from precipitation as the input shifts from snow to rain and as landscape flow pathways change across scales. The isotopic similarity of high-elevation snowpack water and early season rainfall water seen through our sampling scheme made it difficult to truly isolate the impact of seasonal precipitation phase change on stream-water isotopic response. This highlights the need to explicitly consider the complexity of arctic and alpine landscapes when designing sampling strategies to characterize hydrological variability via stable water isotopes. Results show a potential influence of evaporation and source water mixing both spatially (variations with elevation) and temporally (variations from post-freshet to summer flows) on the composition of stream water across Miellajokka. As such, the data collected in this empirical study allow for initial conceptualization of the relative importance of, for example, hydrological connectivity within this mountainous, subarctic landscape.

Keywords

Catchment hydrology; stable water isotopes; tracers; spring flood; freshet

Published in

Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research
2018, Volume: 50, number: 1, article number: e1454778
Publisher: INST ARCTIC ALPINE RES

      SLU Authors

      Sustainable Development Goals

      SDG6 Clean water and sanitation
      SDG13 Climate action

      UKÄ Subject classification

      Oceanography, Hydrology, Water Resources

      Publication identifier

      DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/15230430.2018.1454778

      Permanent link to this page (URI)

      https://res.slu.se/id/publ/96402