Transit times-the link between hydrology and water quality at the catchment scale
In spite of trying to understand processes in the same spatial domain, the catchment hydrology and water quality scientific communities are relatively disconnected and so are their respective models. This is emphasized by an inadequate representation of transport processes, in both catchment-scale hydrological and water quality models. While many hydrological models at the catchment scale only account for pressure propagation and not for mass transfer, catchment scale water quality models are typically limited by overly simplistic representations of flow processes. With the objective of raising awareness for this issue and outlining potential ways forward we provide a nontechnical overview of (1) the importance of hydrology-controlled transport through catchment systems as the link between hydrology and water quality; (2) the limitations of current generation catchment-scale hydrological and water quality models; (3) the concept of transit times as tools to quantify transport; and (4) the benefits of transit time based formulations of solute transport for catchment-scale hydrological and water quality models. There is emerging evidence that an explicit formulation of transport processes, based on the concept of transit times has the potential to improve the understanding of the integrated system dynamics of catchments and to provide a stronger link between catchment-scale hydrological and water quality models. WIREs Water 2016, 3:629-657. doi: 10.1002/wat2.1155 For further resources related to this article, please visit the .