Jan Schmieder


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‘Teflon Basin’ or Not? A High-Elevation Catchment Transit Time Modeling Approach
Jan Schmieder, Stefan Seeger, Markus Weiler, Ulrich Strasser
Hydrology, Volume 6, Issue 4

We determined the streamflow transit time and the subsurface water storage volume in the glacierized high-elevation catchment of the Rofenache (Oetztal Alps, Austria) with the lumped parameter transit time model TRANSEP. Therefore we enhanced the surface energy-balance model ESCIMO to simulate the ice melt, snowmelt and rain input to the catchment and associated δ18O values for 100 m elevation bands. We then optimized TRANSEP with streamflow volume and δ18O for a four-year period with input data from the modified version of ESCIMO at a daily resolution. The median of the 100 best TRANSEP runs revealed a catchment mean transit time of 9.5 years and a mobile storage of 13,846 mm. The interquartile ranges of the best 100 runs were large for both, the mean transit time (8.2–10.5 years) and the mobile storage (11,975–15,382 mm). The young water fraction estimated with the sinusoidal amplitude ratio of input and output δ18O values and delayed input of snow and ice melt was 47%. Our results indicate that streamflow is dominated by the release of water younger than 56 days. However, tracers also revealed a large water volume in the subsurface with a long transit time resulting to a strongly delayed exchange with streamflow and hence also to a certain portion of relatively old water: The median of the best 100 TRANSEP runs for streamflow fraction older than five years is 28%.


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Spatio-temporal tracer variability in the glacier melt end-member - How does it affect hydrograph separation results?
Jan Schmieder, Jakob Garvelmann, Thomas Marke, Ulrich Strasser
Hydrological Processes, Volume 32, Issue 12

Geochemical and isotopic tracers were often used in mixing models to estimate glacier melt contributions to streamflow, whereas the spatio‐temporal variability in the glacier melt tracer signature and its influence on tracer‐based hydrograph separation results received less attention. We present novel tracer data from a high‐elevation catchment (17 km2, glacierized area: 34%) in the Oetztal Alps (Austria) and investigated the spatial, as well as the subdaily to monthly tracer variability of supraglacial meltwater and the temporal tracer variability of winter baseflow to infer groundwater dynamics. The streamflow tracer variability during winter baseflow conditions was small, and the glacier melt tracer variation was higher, especially at the end of the ablation period. We applied a three‐component mixing model with electrical conductivity and oxygen‐18. Hydrograph separation (groundwater, glacier melt, and rain) was performed for 6 single glacier melt‐induced days (i.e., 6 events) during the ablation period 2016 (July to September). Median fractions (±uncertainty) of groundwater, glacier melt, and rain for the events were estimated at 49±2%, 35±11%, and 16±11%, respectively. Minimum and maximum glacier melt fractions at the subdaily scale ranged between 2±5% and 76±11%, respectively. A sensitivity analysis showed that the intraseasonal glacier melt tracer variability had a marked effect on the estimated glacier melt contribution during events with large glacier melt fractions of streamflow. Intra‐daily and spatial variation of the glacier melt tracer signature played a negligible role in applying the mixing model. The results of this study (a) show the necessity to apply a multiple sampling approach in order to characterize the glacier melt end‐member and (b) reveal the importance of groundwater and rainfall–runoff dynamics in catchments with a glacial flow regime.