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Spatial variability in specific discharge and streamwater chemistry during low flows: Results from snapshot sampling campaigns in eleven Swiss catchments
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Physical Geography.
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Number of Authors: 52019 (English)In: Hydrological Processes, ISSN 0885-6087, E-ISSN 1099-1085, Vol. 33, no 22, p. 2847-2866Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Catchments consist of distinct landforms that affect the storage and release of subsurface water. Certain landforms may be the main contributors to streamflow during extended dry periods, and these may vary for different catchments in a given region. We present a unique dataset from snapshot field campaigns during low-flow conditions in 11 catchments across Switzerland to illustrate this. The catchments differed in size (10 to 110 km(2)), varied from predominantly agricultural lowlands to Alpine areas, and covered a range of physical characteristics. During each snapshot campaign, we jointly measured streamflow and collected water samples for the analysis of major ions and stable water isotopes. For every sampling location (basin), we determined several landscape characteristics from national geo-datasets, including drainage area, elevation, slope, flowpath length, dominant land use, and geological and geomorphological characteristics, such as the lithology and fraction of quaternary deposits. The results demonstrate very large spatial variability in specific low-flow discharge and water chemistry: Neighboring sampling locations could differ significantly in their specific discharge, isotopic composition, and ion concentrations, indicating that different sources contribute to streamflow during extended dry periods. However, none of the landscape characteristics that we analysed could explain the spatial variability in specific discharge or streamwater chemistry in multiple catchments. This suggests that local features determine the spatial differences in discharge and water chemistry during low-flow conditions and that this variability cannot be assessed a priori from available geodata and statistical relations to landscape characteristics. The results furthermore suggest that measurements at the catchment outlet during low-flow conditions do not reflect the heterogeneity of the different source areas in the catchment that contribute to streamflow.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2019. Vol. 33, no 22, p. 2847-2866
Keywords [en]
baseflow, catchment characteristics, isotopes, spatial variability, spatiotemporal patterns, storage, stream chemistry
National Category
Earth and Related Environmental Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-174979DOI: 10.1002/hyp.13532ISI: 000486161900001OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-174979DiVA, id: diva2:1362643
Available from: 2019-10-21 Created: 2019-10-21 Last updated: 2019-11-11Bibliographically approved

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Fischer, Benjamin M. C.Kirchner, James W.
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