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N. Dietermann; M. Weiler (2013)
Publisher: Copernicus Publications
Journal: Hydrology and Earth System Sciences
Languages: English
Types: Article
Subjects: DOAJ:Earth and Environmental Sciences, G, Geography. Anthropology. Recreation, Technology, Physical geography, TD1-1066, DOAJ:Geography, T, GE1-350, DOAJ:Environmental Sciences, GB3-5030, Environmental technology. Sanitary engineering, Environmental sciences

Classified by OpenAIRE into

mesheuropmc: human activities
The aim of this study was to analyze and predict the mean stable water isotopic composition of the snow cover at specific geographic locations and altitudes. In addition, the dependence of the isotopic composition of the entire snow cover on altitude was analyzed. Snow in four Swiss catchments was sampled at the end of the accumulation period in April 2010 and a second time in Mai 2010 and analyzed for stable isotope composition of 2H and 18O. The sampling was conducted at both south-facing and north-facing slopes at elevation differences of 100 m for a total altitude difference of approximately 1000 m. The observed variability of isotopic composition of the snow cover was analyzed with stepwise multiple linear regression models. The analysis indicated that there is only a limited altitude effect on the isotopic composition when considering all samples. This is due to the high variability of the isotopic composition of the precipitation during the winter months and, in particular in the case of south-facing slopes, an enrichment of heavy isotopes due to intermittent melting processes. This enrichment effect could clearly be observed in the samples which were taken later in the year. A small altitudinal gradient of the isotopic composition could only be observed at some north-facing slopes. However, the dependence of snow depth and the day of the year were significant predictor variables in all models. This study indicates the necessity to further study the variability of water isotopes in the snow cover to increase prediction for isotopic composition of snowmelt and hence increase model performance of residence time models in alpine areas and to better understand the accumulation processes and the sources of water in the snow cover of high mountains.
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