High temporal resolution (20-min intervals) measurements of stable isotopes from groundwater, stream water and precipitation were investigated to understand the hydrological response behavior and control of precipitation and antecedent wetness conditions on runoff generation. Data of 20 precipitation events were collected by a self-sufficient mobile system for in situ measurements over four months in the Schwingbach Environmental Observatory (SEO, temperate climate), Germany. Isotopic hydrograph separation indicated that more than 79% of the runoff consisted of pre-event water. Short response times of maximum event water fractions in stream water and groundwater revealed that shallow subsurface flow pathways rapidly delivered water to the stream. Macropore and soil pipe networks along relatively flat areas in stream banks were likely relevant pathways for the rapid transmission of water. Event water contribution increased with increasing precipitation amount. Pre-event water contribution was moderately affected by precipitation, whereas, the antecedent wetness conditions were not strong enough to influence pre-event water contribution. The response time was controlled by mean precipitation intensity. A two-phase system was identified, at which the response times of stream water and groundwater decreased after reaching a threshold of mean precipitation intensity of 0.5 mm h−1
. Our results suggest that high temporal resolution measurements of stable isotopes of multiple water sources combined with hydrometrics improve the understanding of the hydrological response behavior and runoff generation mechanisms.
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