Assessing the influence of soil freeze–thaw cycles on catchment water storage–flux–age interactions using a tracer-aided ecohydrological model

Aaron Smith* (Corresponding Author), Doerthe Tetzlaff, Hjalmar Laudon, Marco Maneta, Chris Soulsby

*Corresponding author for this work

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Ecohydrological models are powerful tools to quantify the effects that independent fluxes may have on catchment storage dynamics. Here, we adapted the traceraided ecohydrological model, EcH2O-iso, for cold regions with the explicit conceptualization of dynamic soil freeze- thaw processes. We tested the model at the data-rich Krycklan site in northern Sweden with multi-criterion calibration using discharge, stream isotopes and soil moisture in three 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 0.25m 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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3319-3334
Number of pages16
JournalHydrology and Earth System Sciences
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 13 Aug 2019

Bibliographical note

Acknowledgements. This work was funded by the European Research Council (project GA 335910 VeWa). Marco Maneta recognizes funding for model development and applications from the
US National Science Foundation (project GSS 1461576). The work in the Krycklan catchment is funded by the Swedish Research Council (SITES), SKB, Formas, and the Branch-Points KAW programme. The authors would like to recognize the University of Aberdeen IT Services, who helped with the High Performance Computing (HPC) cluster where all model simulations were conducted. Lastly, the authors thank the editor, Chris DeBeer, and the two reviewers for their suggestions which improved the manuscript, and Sylvain Kuppel for discussions regarding model development.
Financial support. This research has been supported by the European Research Council (grant no. VEWA (335910)).
The publication of this article was funded by the Open Access Fund of the Leibniz Association


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