Hydrological Processes, Volume 34, Issue 26

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A <scp> δ <sup>18</sup> O </scp> and <scp> δ <sup>2</sup> H </scp> stable water isotope analysis of subalpine forest water sources under seasonal and hydrological stress in the Canadian Rocky Mountains
Lindsey E. Langs | Richard M. Petrone | John W. Pomeroy

Subalpine forests are hydrologically important to the function and health of mountain basins. Identifying the specific water sources and the proportions used by subalpine forests is necessary to understand potential impacts to these forests under a changing climate. The recent “Two Water Worlds” hypothesis suggests that trees can favour tightly bound soil water instead of readily available free-flowing soil water. Little is known about the specific sources of water used by subalpine trees Abies lasiocarpa (Subalpine fir) and Picea engelmannii (Engelmann spruce) in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. In this study, stable water isotope (δ18O and δ2H) samples were obtained from S. fir and Engelmann spruce trees at three points of the growing season in combination with water sources available at time of sampling (snow, vadose zone water, saturated zone water, precipitation). Using the Bayesian Mixing Model, MixSIAR, relative source water proportions were calculated. In the drought summer examined, there was a net loss of water via evapotranspiration from the system. Results highlighted the importance of tightly vadose zone, or bound soil water, to subalpine forests, providing insights of future health under sustained years of drought and net loss in summer growing seasons. This work builds upon concepts from the “Two Water Worlds” hypothesis, showing that subalpine trees can draw from different water sources depending on season and availability. In our case, water use was largely driven by a tension gradient within the soil allowing trees to utilize vadose zone water and saturated zone water at differing points of the growing season.

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What about reservoirs? Questioning anthropogenic and climatic interferences on water availability
Abdullah Akbaş | Jim Freer | Hasan Özdemir | Paul Bates | M. Tufan Turp

Water resources in semi‐arid regions like the Mediterranean Basin are highly vulnerable because of the high variability of weather systems. Additionally, climate change is altering the timing and pattern of water availability in a region where growing populations are placing extra demands on water supplies. Importantly, how reservoirs and dams have an influence on the amount of water resources available is poorly quantified. Therefore, we examine the impact of reservoirs on water resources together with the impact of climate change in a semi‐arid Mediterranean catchment. We simulated the Susurluk basin (23.779‐km2) using the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) model. We generate results for with (RSV) and without reservoirs (WRSV) scenarios. We run simulations for current and future conditions using dynamically downscaled outputs of the MPI‐ESM‐MR general circulation model under two greenhouse gas relative concentration pathways (RCPs) in order to reveal the coupled effect of reservoir and climate impacts. Water resources were then converted to their usages – blue water (water in aquifers and rivers), green water storage (water in the soil) and green water flow (water losses by evaporation and transpiration). The results demonstrate that all water resources except green water flow are projected to decrease under all RCPs compared to the reference period, both long‐term and at seasonal scales. However, while water scarcity is expected in the future, reservoir storage is shown to be adequate to overcome this problem. Nevertheless, reservoirs reduce the availability of water, particularly in soil moisture stores, which increases the potential for drought by reducing streamflow. Furthermore, reservoirs cause water losses through evaporation from their open surfaces. We conclude that pressures to protect society from economic damage by building reservoirs have a strong impact on the fluxes of watersheds. This is additional to the effect of climate change on water resources.