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

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

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)

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.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1454778
JournalArctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research
Volume50
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 17 May 2018

Keywords

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

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