Modeling Travel Time Distributions of Preferential Subsurface Runoff, Deep Percolation and Transpiration at A Montane Forest Hillslope Site
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Residence and travel times of water in headwater catchments, or their smaller spatial units, such as individual hillslopes, represent important descriptors of catchments' hydrological regime. In this study, travel time distributions and residence times were evaluated for a montane forest hillslope site. A two-dimensional dual-continuum model, previously validated on water flow and oxygen-18 data, was used to simulate the seasonal soil water regime and selected major rainfall-runoff events observed at the hillslope site. The model was subsequently used to generate hillslope breakthrough curves of a fictitious conservative tracer applied at the hillslope surface in the form of the Dirac impulse. The simulated tracer breakthroughs allowed us to estimate the travel time distributions of soil water associated with the episodic subsurface stormflow, deep percolation and transpiration, thus yielding partial travel time distributions for the individual discharge processes. The travel time distributions determined for stormflow were dominated by the lateral component of preferential flow.
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