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Open AccessArticle

‘Teflon Basin’ or Not? A High-Elevation Catchment Transit Time Modeling Approach

1
Department of Geography, University of Innsbruck, 6020 Innsbruck, Austria
2
Chair of Hydrology, University of Freiburg, 79098 Freiburg, Germany
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Hydrology 2019, 6(4), 92; https://doi.org/10.3390/hydrology6040092
Received: 30 August 2019 / Revised: 11 October 2019 / Accepted: 20 October 2019 / Published: 22 October 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Snow Hydrology: Monitoring and Modelling)
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%. View Full-Text
Keywords: catchment transit time; high-elevation catchment; young water fraction; subsurface storage catchment transit time; high-elevation catchment; young water fraction; subsurface storage
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Schmieder, J.; Seeger, S.; Weiler, M.; Strasser, U. ‘Teflon Basin’ or Not? A High-Elevation Catchment Transit Time Modeling Approach. Hydrology 2019, 6, 92.

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