Hydrologic droughts in snow-dominated catchments are expected to occur more frequently under future climate change. With rising air temperatures, the snowpack volume decreases and the melt season begins earlier in the year, which might have severe effects on summer low flows fed by melt water. In collaboration with the group of Dr. Massimiliano Zappa (Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research WSL) we seek to quantify the contribution of snowmelt to river discharge and groundwater recharge by utilizing stable water isotopes (d18O, d2H) at the Alptal catchment in central Switzerland. Since summer 2015, our PhD student Andrea Ruecker collects precipitation and stream water samples daily at 4 locations. In addition, she installed precipitation collectors (Palmex ltd.) at 6 locations along the Alptal and Erlenbach valley axes to collect 3-week composite samples for isotope analysis.
During 2016, Andrea Ruecker installed three automatic snowmelt-lysimeter- and sample-collection systems that allow for precise monitoring of melt rates at remote locations. With this, she can collect daily snowmelt samples at three different locations (2x grassland, 1xfreosted) and elevations at the pre-Alpine Alptal catchment.