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Tracing sources of summer streamflow in boreal headwaters using isotopic signatures and water geochemical components

Journal of Hydrology
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/j.jhydrol.2006.05.008
  • O And H Isotopes
  • Hydrochemistry
  • Stream Water
  • Peatland
  • Tracer Hydrology
  • Catchment Hydrology
  • Chemistry
  • Earth Science
  • Geography


Summary Content of 18O, 2H, 3H and geochemical components in rainfall, stream water, peat water and bedrock groundwater in four headwater catchments were compared to reveal differences in sources of runoff and hydrological vulnerability to tunnel drainage during summer. Water previously stored within the catchments was the predominant component of streamflow during small and moderate events. The proportion of event water increased at high discharge in autumn. Neither the isotopic nor the hydrochemical composition of stream water indicated any considerable contribution from old bedrock groundwater. Stream water hydrochemistry revealed clear influence of soil water pathways. The differences in land cover could be seen in water quality and runoff generation. Water storage and mixing in lakes and lowland wetlands reduced fluctuations in runoff and water quality. Runoff retention and the solute trapping effect in peatlands were most efficient in flat areas near the catchment outlet. In lowflow periods fluxes from hillslopes were of minor importance compared to discharges from wetland water storage. Water delivery from hillslopes with thin till cover (<0.6 m, average depth 0.3 m), short slope lengths (<100 m) and steep inclines (17%) was very restricted in drought periods. An increase of slope from 13% to 17% can influence the delivery of water from uplands in lowflow periods.

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