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  • Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (HESS)

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  • image/svg+xml art designer at PLoS, modified by Wikipedia users Nina, Beao, JakobVoss, and AnonMoos Open Access logo, converted into svg, designed by PLoS. This version with transparent background. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Open_Access_logo_PLoS_white.svg art designer at PLoS, modified by Wikipedia users Nina, Beao, JakobVoss, and AnonMoos http://www.plos.org/
    Authors: Loon, A. F.; Lanen, H. A. J.;

    Hydrological drought events have very different causes and effects. Classifying these events into distinct types can be useful for both science and management. We propose a hydrological drought typology that is based on governing drought propagation processes derived from catchment-scale drought analysis. In this typology six hydrological drought types are distinguished, i.e. (i) classical rainfall deficit drought, (ii) rain-to-snow-season drought, (iii) wet-to-dry-season drought, (iv) cold snow season drought, (v) warm snow season drought, and (vi) composite drought. The processes underlying these drought types are the result of the interplay of temperature and precipitation at catchment scale in different seasons. As a test case, about 125 groundwater droughts and 210 discharge droughts in five contrasting headwater catchments in Europe have been classified. The most common drought type in all catchments was the classical rainfall deficit drought (almost 50% of all events), but in the selected catchments these were mostly minor events. If only the five most severe drought events of each catchment are considered, a shift towards more rain-to-snow-season droughts, warm snow season droughts, and composite droughts was found. The occurrence of hydrological drought types is determined by climate and catchment characteristics. The drought typology is transferable to other catchments, including outside Europe, because it is generic and based upon processes that occur around the world. A general framework is proposed to identify drought type occurrence in relation to climate and catchment characteristics.

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    Authors: Chukalla, Abebe D.; Krol, Maarten S.; Hoekstra, Arjen Y.;

    Reducing the water footprint (WF) of the process of growing irrigated crops is an indispensable element in water management, particularly in water-scarce areas. To achieve this, information on marginal cost curves (MCCs) that rank management packages according to their cost-effectiveness to reduce the WF need to support the decision making. MCCs enable the estimation of the cost associated with a certain WF reduction target, e.g. towards a given WF permit (expressed in m3  ha−1 per season) or to a certain WF benchmark (expressed in m3  t−1 of crop). This paper aims to develop MCCs for WF reduction for a range of selected cases. AquaCrop, a soil-water-balance and crop-growth model, is used to estimate the effect of different management packages on evapotranspiration and crop yield and thus the WF of crop production. A management package is defined as a specific combination of management practices: irrigation technique (furrow, sprinkler, drip or subsurface drip); irrigation strategy (full or deficit irrigation); and mulching practice (no, organic or synthetic mulching). The annual average cost for each management package is estimated as the annualized capital cost plus the annual costs of maintenance and operations (i.e. costs of water, energy and labour). Different cases are considered, including three crops (maize, tomato and potato); four types of environment (humid in UK, sub-humid in Italy, semi-arid in Spain and arid in Israel); three hydrologic years (wet, normal and dry years) and three soil types (loam, silty clay loam and sandy loam). For each crop, alternative WF reduction pathways were developed, after which the most cost-effective pathway was selected to develop the MCC for WF reduction. When aiming at WF reduction one can best improve the irrigation strategy first, next the mulching practice and finally the irrigation technique. Moving from a full to deficit irrigation strategy is found to be a no-regret measure: it reduces the WF by reducing water consumption at negligible yield reduction while reducing the cost for irrigation water and the associated costs for energy and labour. Next, moving from no to organic mulching has a high cost-effectiveness, reducing the WF significantly at low cost. Finally, changing from sprinkler or furrow to drip or subsurface drip irrigation reduces the WF, but at a significant cost.

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    Authors: Mwangi, E.; Wetterhall, F.; Dutra, E.; Di Giuseppe, F.; +1 Authors

    The humanitarian crises caused by the recent droughts (2008–2009 and 2010–2011) in East Africa have illustrated that the ability to make accurate drought forecasts with sufficient lead time is essential. The use of dynamical model precipitation forecasts in combination with drought indices, such as the Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI), can potentially lead to a better description of drought duration, magnitude and spatial extent. This study evaluates the use of the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) products in forecasting droughts in East Africa. ECMWF seasonal precipitation shows significant skill for March–May and October–December rain seasons when evaluated against measurements from the available in situ stations from East Africa. The forecast for October–December rain season has higher skill than for the March–May season. ECMWF forecasts add value to the consensus forecasts produced during the Greater Horn of Africa Climate Outlook Forum (GHACOF), which is the present operational product for precipitation forecast over East Africa. Complementing the original ECMWF precipitation forecasts with SPI provides additional information on the spatial extent and intensity of the drought event.

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    Authors: Aich, V.; Liersch, S.; Vetter, T.; Huang, S.; +7 Authors

    This study aims to compare impacts of climate change on streamflow in four large representative African river basins: the Niger, the Upper Blue Nile, the Oubangui and the Limpopo. We set up the eco-hydrological model SWIM (Soil and Water Integrated Model) for all four basins individually. The validation of the models for four basins shows results from adequate to very good, depending on the quality and availability of input and calibration data. For the climate impact assessment, we drive the model with outputs of five bias corrected Earth system models of Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 (CMIP5) for the representative concentration pathways (RCPs) 2.6 and 8.5. This climate input is put into the context of climate trends of the whole African continent and compared to a CMIP5 ensemble of 19 models in order to test their representativeness. Subsequently, we compare the trends in mean discharges, seasonality and hydrological extremes in the 21st century. The uncertainty of results for all basins is high. Still, climate change impact is clearly visible for mean discharges but also for extremes in high and low flows. The uncertainty of the projections is the lowest in the Upper Blue Nile, where an increase in streamflow is most likely. In the Niger and the Limpopo basins, the magnitude of trends in both directions is high and has a wide range of uncertainty. In the Oubangui, impacts are the least significant. Our results confirm partly the findings of previous continental impact analyses for Africa. However, contradictory to these studies we find a tendency for increased streamflows in three of the four basins (not for the Oubangui). Guided by these results, we argue for attention to the possible risks of increasing high flows in the face of the dominant water scarcity in Africa. In conclusion, the study shows that impact intercomparisons have added value to the adaptation discussion and may be used for setting up adaptation plans in the context of a holistic approach.

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    Authors: Smith, Aaron A.; Tetzlaff, Doerthe; Laudon, Hjalmar; Maneta, Marco; +1 Authors

    Ecohydrological models are powerful tools to quantify the effects that independent fluxes may have on catchment storage dynamics. Here, we adapted the tracer-aided ecohydrological model, EcH2O-iso, for cold regions with the explicit conceptualisation of dynamic soil freeze-thaw processes. We tested the model at the data-rich Krycklan site in northern Sweden with multi-criteria calibration using discharge, stream isotopes and soil moisture in 3 nested catchments. We utilized the model’s incorporation of ecohydrological partitioning to evaluate the effect of soil frost on evaporation and transpiration water ages, and thereby the age of source waters. The simulation of stream discharge, isotopes, and soil moisture variability captured the seasonal dynamics at all three stream sites and both soil sites, with notable reductions in discharge and soil moisture during the winter months due to the development of the frost front. Stream isotope simulations reproduced the response to the isotopically-depleted pulse of spring snowmelt. The soil frost dynamics adequately captured the spatial differences in the freezing-front throughout the winter period, despite no direct calibration of soil frost to measured soil temperature. The simulated soil frost indicated a maximum freeze-depth of 0.25 m below forest vegetation. Water ages of evaporation and transpiration reflect the influence of snowmelt-inputs, with a high proclivity of old water (pre-winter storage) at the beginning of the growing season and a mix of snowmelt and precipitation (young water) toward the end of the summer. Soil frost had an early season influence of the transpiration water ages, with water pre-dating the snowpack mainly sustaining vegetation at the start of the growing season. Given the long-term expected change in the energy-balance of northern climates, the approach presented provides a framework for quantifying the interactions of ecohydrological fluxes and waters stored in the soil and understanding how these may be impacted in future.

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    Authors: Jia, L.; Shang, H.; Hu, G.; Menenti, M.;

    Liquid and solid precipitation is abundant in the high elevation, upper reach of the Heihe River basin in northwestern China. The development of modern irrigation schemes in the middle reach of the basin is taking up an increasing share of fresh water resources, endangering the oasis and traditional irrigation systems in the lower reach. In this study, the response of vegetation in the Ejina Oasis in the lower reach of the Heihe River to the water yield of the upper catchment was analyzed by time series analysis of monthly observations of precipitation in the upper and lower catchment, river streamflow downstream of the modern irrigation schemes and satellite observations of vegetation index. Firstly, remotely sensed NDVI data acquired by Terra-MODIS are used to monitor the vegetation dynamic for a seven years period between 2000 and 2006. Due to cloud-contamination, atmospheric influence and different solar and viewing angles, however, the quality and consistence of time series of remotely sensed NDVI data are degraded. A Fourier Transform method – the Harmonic Analysis of Time Series (HANTS) algorithm – is used to reconstruct cloud- and noise-free NDVI time series data from the Terra-MODIS NDVI dataset. Modification is made on HANTS by adding additional parameters to deal with large data gaps in yearly time series in combination with a Temporal-Similarity-Statistics (TSS) method developed in this study to seek for initial values for the large gap periods. Secondly, the same Fourier Transform method is used to model time series of the vegetation phenology. The reconstructed cloud-free NDVI time series data are used to study the relationship between the water availability (i.e. the local precipitation and upstream water yield) and the evolution of vegetation conditions in Ejina Oasis from 2000 to 2006. Anomalies in precipitation, streamflow, and vegetation index are detected by comparing each year with the average year. The results showed that: the previous year total runoff had a significant relationship with the vegetation growth in Ejina Oasis and that anomalies in the spring monthly runoff of the Heihe River influenced the phenology of vegetation in the entire oasis. Warmer climate expressed by the degree-days showed positive influence on the vegetation phenology in particular during drier years. The time of maximum green-up is uniform throughout the oasis during wetter years, but showed a clear S-N gradient (downstream) during drier years.

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    Authors: Hirl, Regina T.; Schnyder, Hans; Ostler, Ulrike; Schäufele, Rudi; +7 Authors

    The oxygen isotope composition (δ18O) of leaf water δ18O>sub>leaf) is an important determinant of environmental and physiological information found in biological archives, but the system-scale understanding of the propagation of the δ18O of rain through soil and xylem water to δ18Oleaf has not been verified for grassland. Here we report a unique and comprehensive dataset of biweekly δ18O observations in soil, stem and leaf waters made over seven growing seasons in a temperate, drought-prone, mixed-species grassland. Using an 18O-enabled soil–plant–atmosphere transfer model, we evaluated our ability to predict the dynamics of δ18O in soil water, the depth of water uptake, and the effects of soil and atmospheric moisture on 18O-enrichment of leaf water (Δ18Oleaf) in this ecosystem. The model accurately predicted the δ18O dynamics of the different ecosystem water pools. Water uptake occurred from shallow soil depths throughout dry and wet periods in all years, presumably because of the high grazing pressure. Δ18Oleaf responded to both soil and atmospheric moisture and was best described when leaf water was separated into two non-mixing water pools. The close agreement between model predictions and observations is remarkable (and promising) as model parameters describing the relevant physical features or functional relationships of soil and vegetation were held constant with one single value for the entire mixed-species ecosystem.

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    Authors: Trambauer, P.; Maskey, S.; Werner, M.; Pappenberger, F.; +2 Authors

    Droughts are widespread natural hazards and in many regions their frequency seems to be increasing. A finer-resolution version (0.05° × 0.05°) of the continental-scale hydrological model PCRaster Global Water Balance (PCR-GLOBWB) was set up for the Limpopo River basin, one of the most water-stressed basins on the African continent. An irrigation module was included to account for large irrigated areas of the basin. The finer resolution model was used to analyse hydrological droughts in the Limpopo River basin in the period 1979–2010 with a view to identifying severe droughts that have occurred in the basin. Evaporation, soil moisture, groundwater storage and runoff estimates from the model were derived at a spatial resolution of 0.05° (approximately 5 km) on a daily timescale for the entire basin. PCR-GLOBWB was forced with daily precipitation and temperature obtained from the ERA-Interim global atmospheric reanalysis product from the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts. Two agricultural drought indicators were computed: the Evapotranspiration Deficit Index (ETDI) and the Root Stress Anomaly Index (RSAI). Hydrological drought was characterised using the Standardized Runoff Index (SRI) and the Groundwater Resource Index (GRI), which make use of the streamflow and groundwater storage resulting from the model. Other more widely used meteorological drought indicators, such as the Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI) and the Standardized Precipitation Evaporation Index (SPEI), were also computed for different aggregation periods. Results show that a carefully set-up, process-based model that makes use of the best available input data can identify hydrological droughts even if the model is largely uncalibrated. The indicators considered are able to represent the most severe droughts in the basin and to some extent identify the spatial variability of droughts. Moreover, results show the importance of computing indicators that can be related to hydrological droughts, and how these add value to the identification of hydrological droughts and floods and the temporal evolution of events that would otherwise not have been apparent when considering only meteorological indicators. In some cases, meteorological indicators alone fail to capture the severity of the hydrological drought. Therefore, a combination of some of these indicators (e.g. SPEI-3, SRI-6 and SPI-12 computed together) is found to be a useful measure for identifying agricultural to long-term hydrological droughts in the Limpopo River basin. Additionally, it was possible to undertake a characterisation of the drought severity in the basin, indicated by its time of occurrence, duration and intensity.

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    Authors: Lorenzo-Lacruz, J.; Vicente-Serrano, S. M.; López-Moreno, J. I.; González-Hidalgo, J. C.; +1 Authors

    In this study we analyzed the influence of the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) on the streamflow in 187 sub-basins of the Iberian Peninsula. Monthly and one-month lagged correlations were conducted to assess the spatio-temporal extent of the NAO influence on Iberian river discharges. Analysis of the persistence of the winter NAO throughout the year was also undertaken, together with analysis of streamflow anomalies during positive and negative NAO phases. Moving-window correlation analyses were conducted to assess potential changes in the temporal evolution of the NAO influence on Iberian streamflows. The results show that the NAO has a large impact on surface water resources throughout the Iberian Peninsula during winter, and in the Atlantic watershed during autumn. We showed that water resources management and snowmelt are causing the persistent dependence of streamflows on the previous winter NAO. We found that strongly positive streamflow anomalies occurred during winter, especially in the Atlantic watershed, and provide evidence of non-stationarity and spatial variability in the NAO influence on Iberian water resources.

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    Authors: Westerhoff, Rogier; White, Paul; Rawlinson, Zara;

    Large-scale models and satellite data are increasingly used to characterise groundwater and its recharge at the global scale. Although these models have the potential to fill in data gaps and solve trans-boundary issues, they are often neglected in smaller-scale studies, since data are often coarse or uncertain. Large-scale models and satellite data could play a more important role in smaller-scale (i.e., national or regional) studies, if they could be adjusted to fit that scale. In New Zealand, large-scale models and satellite data are not used for groundwater recharge estimation at the national scale, since regional councils (i.e., the water managers) have varying water policy and models are calibrated at the local scale. Also, some regions have many localised ground observations (but poor record coverage), whereas others are data-sparse. Therefore, estimation of recharge is inconsistent at the national scale. This paper presents an approach to apply large-scale, global, models and satellite data to estimate rainfall recharge at the national to regional scale across New Zealand. We present a model, NGRM, that is largely inspired by the global-scale WaterGAP recharge model, but is improved and adjusted using national data. The NGRM model uses MODIS-derived ET and vegetation satellite data, and the available nation-wide datasets on rainfall, elevation, soil and geology. A valuable addition to the recharge estimation is the model uncertainty estimate, based on variance, covariance and sensitivity of all input data components in the model environment. This research shows that, with minor model adjustments and use of improved input data, large-scale models and satellite data can be used to derive rainfall recharge estimates, including their uncertainty, at the smaller scale, i.e., national and regional scale of New Zealand. The estimated New Zealand recharge of the NGRM model compare well to most local and regional lysimeter data and recharge models. The NGRM is therefore assumed to be capable to fill in gaps in data-sparse areas and to create more consistency between datasets from different regions, i.e., to solve trans-boundary issues. This research also shows that smaller-scale recharge studies in New Zealand should include larger boundaries than only a (sub-)aquifer, and preferably the whole catchment. This research points out the need for improved collaboration on the international to national to regional levels to further merge large-scale (global) models to smaller (i.e., national or regional) scales. Future research topics should, collaboratively, focus on: improvement of rainfall-runoff and snowmelt methods; inclusion of river recharge; further improvement of input data (rainfall, evapotranspiration, soil and geology); and the impact of recharge uncertainty in mountainous and irrigated areas.

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152 Research products
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    Authors: Loon, A. F.; Lanen, H. A. J.;

    Hydrological drought events have very different causes and effects. Classifying these events into distinct types can be useful for both science and management. We propose a hydrological drought typology that is based on governing drought propagation processes derived from catchment-scale drought analysis. In this typology six hydrological drought types are distinguished, i.e. (i) classical rainfall deficit drought, (ii) rain-to-snow-season drought, (iii) wet-to-dry-season drought, (iv) cold snow season drought, (v) warm snow season drought, and (vi) composite drought. The processes underlying these drought types are the result of the interplay of temperature and precipitation at catchment scale in different seasons. As a test case, about 125 groundwater droughts and 210 discharge droughts in five contrasting headwater catchments in Europe have been classified. The most common drought type in all catchments was the classical rainfall deficit drought (almost 50% of all events), but in the selected catchments these were mostly minor events. If only the five most severe drought events of each catchment are considered, a shift towards more rain-to-snow-season droughts, warm snow season droughts, and composite droughts was found. The occurrence of hydrological drought types is determined by climate and catchment characteristics. The drought typology is transferable to other catchments, including outside Europe, because it is generic and based upon processes that occur around the world. A general framework is proposed to identify drought type occurrence in relation to climate and catchment characteristics.

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    Authors: Chukalla, Abebe D.; Krol, Maarten S.; Hoekstra, Arjen Y.;

    Reducing the water footprint (WF) of the process of growing irrigated crops is an indispensable element in water management, particularly in water-scarce areas. To achieve this, information on marginal cost curves (MCCs) that rank management packages according to their cost-effectiveness to reduce the WF need to support the decision making. MCCs enable the estimation of the cost associated with a certain WF reduction target, e.g. towards a given WF permit (expressed in m3  ha−1 per season) or to a certain WF benchmark (expressed in m3  t−1 of crop). This paper aims to develop MCCs for WF reduction for a range of selected cases. AquaCrop, a soil-water-balance and crop-growth model, is used to estimate the effect of different management packages on evapotranspiration and crop yield and thus the WF of crop production. A management package is defined as a specific combination of management practices: irrigation technique (furrow, sprinkler, drip or subsurface drip); irrigation strategy (full or deficit irrigation); and mulching practice (no, organic or synthetic mulching). The annual average cost for each management package is estimated as the annualized capital cost plus the annual costs of maintenance and operations (i.e. costs of water, energy and labour). Different cases are considered, including three crops (maize, tomato and potato); four types of environment (humid in UK, sub-humid in Italy, semi-arid in Spain and arid in Israel); three hydrologic years (wet, normal and dry years) and three soil types (loam, silty clay loam and sandy loam). For each crop, alternative WF reduction pathways were developed, after which the most cost-effective pathway was selected to develop the MCC for WF reduction. When aiming at WF reduction one can best improve the irrigation strategy first, next the mulching practice and finally the irrigation technique. Moving from a full to deficit irrigation strategy is found to be a no-regret measure: it reduces the WF by reducing water consumption at negligible yield reduction while reducing the cost for irrigation water and the associated costs for energy and labour. Next, moving from no to organic mulching has a high cost-effectiveness, reducing the WF significantly at low cost. Finally, changing from sprinkler or furrow to drip or subsurface drip irrigation reduces the WF, but at a significant cost.

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    Authors: Mwangi, E.; Wetterhall, F.; Dutra, E.; Di Giuseppe, F.; +1 Authors

    The humanitarian crises caused by the recent droughts (2008–2009 and 2010–2011) in East Africa have illustrated that the ability to make accurate drought forecasts with sufficient lead time is essential. The use of dynamical model precipitation forecasts in combination with drought indices, such as the Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI), can potentially lead to a better description of drought duration, magnitude and spatial extent. This study evaluates the use of the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) products in forecasting droughts in East Africa. ECMWF seasonal precipitation shows significant skill for March–May and October–December rain seasons when evaluated against measurements from the available in situ stations from East Africa. The forecast for October–December rain season has higher skill than for the March–May season. ECMWF forecasts add value to the consensus forecasts produced during the Greater Horn of Africa Climate Outlook Forum (GHACOF), which is the present operational product for precipitation forecast over East Africa. Complementing the original ECMWF precipitation forecasts with SPI provides additional information on the spatial extent and intensity of the drought event.

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    Authors: Aich, V.; Liersch, S.; Vetter, T.; Huang, S.; +7 Authors

    This study aims to compare impacts of climate change on streamflow in four large representative African river basins: the Niger, the Upper Blue Nile, the Oubangui and the Limpopo. We set up the eco-hydrological model SWIM (Soil and Water Integrated Model) for all four basins individually. The validation of the models for four basins shows results from adequate to very good, depending on the quality and availability of input and calibration data. For the climate impact assessment, we drive the model with outputs of five bias corrected Earth system models of Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 (CMIP5) for the representative concentration pathways (RCPs) 2.6 and 8.5. This climate input is put into the context of climate trends of the whole African continent and compared to a CMIP5 ensemble of 19 models in order to test their representativeness. Subsequently, we compare the trends in mean discharges, seasonality and hydrological extremes in the 21st century. The uncertainty of results for all basins is high. Still, climate change impact is clearly visible for mean discharges but also for extremes in high and low flows. The uncertainty of the projections is the lowest in the Upper Blue Nile, where an increase in streamflow is most likely. In the Niger and the Limpopo basins, the magnitude of trends in both directions is high and has a wide range of uncertainty. In the Oubangui, impacts are the least significant. Our results confirm partly the findings of previous continental impact analyses for Africa. However, contradictory to these studies we find a tendency for increased streamflows in three of the four basins (not for the Oubangui). Guided by these results, we argue for attention to the possible risks of increasing high flows in the face of the dominant water scarcity in Africa. In conclusion, the study shows that impact intercomparisons have added value to the adaptation discussion and may be used for setting up adaptation plans in the context of a holistic approach.

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    Authors: Smith, Aaron A.; Tetzlaff, Doerthe; Laudon, Hjalmar; Maneta, Marco; +1 Authors

    Ecohydrological models are powerful tools to quantify the effects that independent fluxes may have on catchment storage dynamics. Here, we adapted the tracer-aided ecohydrological model, EcH2O-iso, for cold regions with the explicit conceptualisation of dynamic soil freeze-thaw processes. We tested the model at the data-rich Krycklan site in northern Sweden with multi-criteria calibration using discharge, stream isotopes and soil moisture in 3 nested catchments. We utilized the model’s incorporation of ecohydrological partitioning to evaluate the effect of soil frost on evaporation and transpiration water ages, and thereby the age of source waters. The simulation of stream discharge, isotopes, and soil moisture variability captured the seasonal dynamics at all three stream sites and both soil sites, with notable reductions in discharge and soil moisture during the winter months due to the development of the frost front. Stream isotope simulations reproduced the response to the isotopically-depleted pulse of spring snowmelt. The soil frost dynamics adequately captured the spatial differences in the freezing-front throughout the winter period, despite no direct calibration of soil frost to measured soil temperature. The simulated soil frost indicated a maximum freeze-depth of 0.25 m below forest vegetation. Water ages of evaporation and transpiration reflect the influence of snowmelt-inputs, with a high proclivity of old water (pre-winter storage) at the beginning of the growing season and a mix of snowmelt and precipitation (young water) toward the end of the summer. Soil frost had an early season influence of the transpiration water ages, with water pre-dating the snowpack mainly sustaining vegetation at the start of the growing season. Given the long-term expected change in the energy-balance of northern climates, the approach presented provides a framework for quantifying the interactions of ecohydrological fluxes and waters stored in the soil and understanding how these may be impacted in future.

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    Authors: Jia, L.; Shang, H.; Hu, G.; Menenti, M.;

    Liquid and solid precipitation is abundant in the high elevation, upper reach of the Heihe River basin in northwestern China. The development of modern irrigation schemes in the middle reach of the basin is taking up an increasing share of fresh water resources, endangering the oasis and traditional irrigation systems in the lower reach. In this study, the response of vegetation in the Ejina Oasis in the lower reach of the Heihe River to the water yield of the upper catchment was analyzed by time series analysis of monthly observations of precipitation in the upper and lower catchment, river streamflow downstream of the modern irrigation schemes and satellite observations of vegetation index. Firstly, remotely sensed NDVI data acquired by Terra-MODIS are used to monitor the vegetation dynamic for a seven years period between 2000 and 2006. Due to cloud-contamination, atmospheric influence and different solar and viewing angles, however, the quality and consistence of time series of remotely sensed NDVI data are degraded. A Fourier Transform method – the Harmonic Analysis of Time Series (HANTS) algorithm – is used to reconstruct cloud- and noise-free NDVI time series data from the Terra-MODIS NDVI dataset. Modification is made on HANTS by adding additional parameters to deal with large data gaps in yearly time series in combination with a Temporal-Similarity-Statistics (TSS) method developed in this study to seek for initial values for the large gap periods. Secondly, the same Fourier Transform method is used to model time series of the vegetation phenology. The reconstructed cloud-free NDVI time series data are used to study the relationship between the water availability (i.e. the local precipitation and upstream water yield) and the evolution of vegetation conditions in Ejina Oasis from 2000 to 2006. Anomalies in precipitation, streamflow, and vegetation index are detected by comparing each year with the average year. The results showed that: the previous year total runoff had a significant relationship with the vegetation growth in Ejina Oasis and that anomalies in the spring monthly runoff of the Heihe River influenced the phenology of vegetation in the entire oasis. Warmer climate expressed by the degree-days showed positive influence on the vegetation phenology in particular during drier years. The time of maximum green-up is uniform throughout the oasis during wetter years, but showed a clear S-N gradient (downstream) during drier years.

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    Authors: Hirl, Regina T.; Schnyder, Hans; Ostler, Ulrike; Schäufele, Rudi; +7 Authors

    The oxygen isotope composition (δ18O) of leaf water δ18O>sub>leaf) is an important determinant of environmental and physiological information found in biological archives, but the system-scale understanding of the propagation of the δ18O of rain through soil and xylem water to δ18Oleaf has not been verified for grassland. Here we report a unique and comprehensive dataset of biweekly δ18O observations in soil, stem and leaf waters made over seven growing seasons in a temperate, drought-prone, mixed-species grassland. Using an 18O-enabled soil–plant–atmosphere transfer model, we evaluated our ability to predict the dynamics of δ18O in soil water, the depth of water uptake, and the effects of soil and atmospheric moisture on 18O-enrichment of leaf water (Δ18Oleaf) in this ecosystem. The model accurately predicted the δ18O dynamics of the different ecosystem water pools. Water uptake occurred from shallow soil depths throughout dry and wet periods in all years, presumably because of the high grazing pressure. Δ18Oleaf responded to both soil and atmospheric moisture and was best described when leaf water was separated into two non-mixing water pools. The close agreement between model predictions and observations is remarkable (and promising) as model parameters describing the relevant physical features or functional relationships of soil and vegetation were held constant with one single value for the entire mixed-species ecosystem.

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    Authors: Trambauer, P.; Maskey, S.; Werner, M.; Pappenberger, F.; +2 Authors

    Droughts are widespread natural hazards and in many regions their frequency seems to be increasing. A finer-resolution version (0.05° × 0.05°) of the continental-scale hydrological model PCRaster Global Water Balance (PCR-GLOBWB) was set up for the Limpopo River basin, one of the most water-stressed basins on the African continent. An irrigation module was included to account for large irrigated areas of the basin. The finer resolution model was used to analyse hydrological droughts in the Limpopo River basin in the period 1979–2010 with a view to identifying severe droughts that have occurred in the basin. Evaporation, soil moisture, groundwater storage and runoff estimates from the model were derived at a spatial resolution of 0.05° (approximately 5 km) on a daily timescale for the entire basin. PCR-GLOBWB was forced with daily precipitation and temperature obtained from the ERA-Interim global atmospheric reanalysis product from the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts. Two agricultural drought indicators were computed: the Evapotranspiration Deficit Index (ETDI) and the Root Stress Anomaly Index (RSAI). Hydrological drought was characterised using the Standardized Runoff Index (SRI) and the Groundwater Resource Index (GRI), which make use of the streamflow and groundwater storage resulting from the model. Other more widely used meteorological drought indicators, such as the Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI) and the Standardized Precipitation Evaporation Index (SPEI), were also computed for different aggregation periods. Results show that a carefully set-up, process-based model that makes use of the best available input data can identify hydrological droughts even if the model is largely uncalibrated. The indicators considered are able to represent the most severe droughts in the basin and to some extent identify the spatial variability of droughts. Moreover, results show the importance of computing indicators that can be related to hydrological droughts, and how these add value to the identification of hydrological droughts and floods and the temporal evolution of events that would otherwise not have been apparent when considering only meteorological indicators. In some cases, meteorological indicators alone fail to capture the severity of the hydrological drought. Therefore, a combination of some of these indicators (e.g. SPEI-3, SRI-6 and SPI-12 computed together) is found to be a useful measure for identifying agricultural to long-term hydrological droughts in the Limpopo River basin. Additionally, it was possible to undertake a characterisation of the drought severity in the basin, indicated by its time of occurrence, duration and intensity.

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    Authors: Lorenzo-Lacruz, J.; Vicente-Serrano, S. M.; López-Moreno, J. I.; González-Hidalgo, J. C.; +1 Authors

    In this study we analyzed the influence of the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) on the streamflow in 187 sub-basins of the Iberian Peninsula. Monthly and one-month lagged correlations were conducted to assess the spatio-temporal extent of the NAO influence on Iberian river discharges. Analysis of the persistence of the winter NAO throughout the year was also undertaken, together with analysis of streamflow anomalies during positive and negative NAO phases. Moving-window correlation analyses were conducted to assess potential changes in the temporal evolution of the NAO influence on Iberian streamflows. The results show that the NAO has a large impact on surface water resources throughout the Iberian Peninsula during winter, and in the Atlantic watershed during autumn. We showed that water resources management and snowmelt are causing the persistent dependence of streamflows on the previous winter NAO. We found that strongly positive streamflow anomalies occurred during winter, especially in the Atlantic watershed, and provide evidence of non-stationarity and spatial variability in the NAO influence on Iberian water resources.

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    Authors: Westerhoff, Rogier; White, Paul; Rawlinson, Zara;

    Large-scale models and satellite data are increasingly used to characterise groundwater and its recharge at the global scale. Although these models have the potential to fill in data gaps and solve trans-boundary issues, they are often neglected in smaller-scale studies, since data are often coarse or uncertain. Large-scale models and satellite data could play a more important role in smaller-scale (i.e., national or regional) studies, if they could be adjusted to fit that scale. In New Zealand, large-scale models and satellite data are not used for groundwater recharge estimation at the national scale, since regional councils (i.e., the water managers) have varying water policy and models are calibrated at the local scale. Also, some regions have many localised ground observations (but poor record coverage), whereas others are data-sparse. Therefore, estimation of recharge is inconsistent at the national scale. This paper presents an approach to apply large-scale, global, models and satellite data to estimate rainfall recharge at the national to regional scale across New Zealand. We present a model, NGRM, that is largely inspired by the global-scale WaterGAP recharge model, but is improved and adjusted using national data. The NGRM model uses MODIS-derived ET and vegetation satellite data, and the available nation-wide datasets on rainfall, elevation, soil and geology. A valuable addition to the recharge estimation is the model uncertainty estimate, based on variance, covariance and sensitivity of all input data components in the model environment. This research shows that, with minor model adjustments and use of improved input data, large-scale models and satellite data can be used to derive rainfall recharge estimates, including their uncertainty, at the smaller scale, i.e., national and regional scale of New Zealand. The estimated New Zealand recharge of the NGRM model compare well to most local and regional lysimeter data and recharge models. The NGRM is therefore assumed to be capable to fill in gaps in data-sparse areas and to create more consistency between datasets from different regions, i.e., to solve trans-boundary issues. This research also shows that smaller-scale recharge studies in New Zealand should include larger boundaries than only a (sub-)aquifer, and preferably the whole catchment. This research points out the need for improved collaboration on the international to national to regional levels to further merge large-scale (global) models to smaller (i.e., national or regional) scales. Future research topics should, collaboratively, focus on: improvement of rainfall-runoff and snowmelt methods; inclusion of river recharge; further improvement of input data (rainfall, evapotranspiration, soil and geology); and the impact of recharge uncertainty in mountainous and irrigated areas.

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