Thermodynamics in the hydrologic response: Travel time formulation and application to Alpine catchments

This paper presents a spatially-explicit model for hydro-thermal response simulations of Alpine catchments, accounting for advective and non-advective energy fluxes in stream networks characterized by arbitrary degrees of geomorphological complexity. The relevance of the work stems from the increasing scientific interest concerning the impacts of the warming climate on water resources management and temperature-controlled ecological processes. The description of the advective energy uxes is cast in a travel time formulation of water and energy transport, resulting in a closed form solution for water temperature evolution in the soil compartment. The application to Alpine catchments hinges on the boundary conditions provided by the fully-distributed and physically-based snow model Alpine3D. The performance of the simulations is illustrated by comparing modeled and measured hydrographs and thermographs at the outlet of the Dischma catchment (45 km2) in the Swiss Alps. The Monte Carlo calibration shows that the model is robust and that a simultaneous fitting of stream ow and stream temperature reduces the uncertainty in the hydrological parameters estimation. The calibrated model also provides a good fit to the measurements in the validation period, suggesting that it could be employed for predictive applications, both for hydrological and ecological purposes. The temperature of the subsurface flow, as described by the proposed travel time formulation, proves warmer than the stream temperature during winter and colder during summer. Finally, the spatially-explicit results of the model during snowmelt show a notable hydro-thermal spatial variability in the river network, owing to the small spatial correlation of infilltration and meteorological forcings in Alpine regions.

Published in:
Water Resources Research, 51
Washington, American Geophysical Union

 Record created 2015-02-19, last modified 2018-03-18

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