Models for the runoff from a glaciated catchment area using measurements of environmental isotope contents

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Behrens, H. , Moser, H. , Oerter, H. , Rauert, W. , Stichler, W. and Ambach, W. (1978): Models for the runoff from a glaciated catchment area using measurements of environmental isotope contents , Isotope Hydrology (1978) Vol. ll, W-05, Proceedings of a Symposium, Neuherberg, 19-23 June 1978, IAEA, Vienna, IAEA-SM-228/41, 2 , pp. 829-846 .
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For several years, in the glaciated catchment area of the Rofenache (Oetztal Alps, Austria), measurements have been made of the environmental isotopes 2H, 180 and 3H in precipitation, snow and ice samples and in the runoff. Furthermore, the electrolytic conductivity of runoff samples was measured and tracing experiments were made with fluorescent dyes. From core samples drilled in the accumulation area of the Vernagtferner, the gross beta activity was investigated and compared with the data from 2H, 3H and 180 analyses and the data from mass balance studies. It is shown that the annual net balance from previous years can be recovered on temperate glaciers using environmental isotope techniques. From the diurnal variations of the 2H and 3H contents and the electrolytic conductivity, the following proportions in the runoff of the Vernagtferner catchment area were obtained during a 24-hour interval at a time of strong ablation (August 1976): about 50% ice meltwater, 25% direct runoff of firn and snow meltwater, and 7% of mineralized groundwater. The rest of the runoff consists of non- mineralized meltwater seeping from the glacier body. The annual variations of the 2H and 3H contents in the runoff of the glaciated catchment area permit conclusions on the time sequence of the individual ablation periods, and on the residence time, on the basis of model concepts. The residence times of approximately 100 days or four years, respectively, are obtained from the decrease in the 2H content at the end of the ablation period and from the variation of the 3H content in the winter discharge.

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