EGU22-7894, updated on 28 Mar 2022
EGU General Assembly 2022
© Author(s) 2022. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Snow/rain source mixing and residence time modeling in a sub-alpine mountainous catchment under global warming

Aniket Gupta, Didier Voisin, and Jean-Martial Cohard
Aniket Gupta et al.
  • Université Grenoble Alpes, Institut des Géosciences de l'Environnement, Grenoble, France (

Mountain catchments behavior is largely governed by snow accumulation and melting regime. These intricate water fluxes sustain the streamflow response for several months and maintain the surface moisture until late summer. The melting snow slowly percolates to the subsurface recharging underground reservoirs which later sustain the ecosystem during the dry periods. During the summer periods in mountainous catchment the rain contributes more to the surface runoff because of steep slopes. In this study, we hypothesise that middle elevation mountain catchments under a warming climate will shift from a snow hydrological recharging behavior to a flash flood behavior. We used ParFLOW-CLM, a fully distributed physical based surface-subsurface coupled integrated hydrological model to show how much water budget partitioning will change on a small subalpine mid-elevation (2000-2200 m) catchment at col du Lautaret (France). With a 10 m hyper-resolution setup, ParFLOW-CLM helps us to distinguish between the Hortonian and Dunian runoff along with the velocity of water movement in the x-y-z direction. Further, we applied a Lagrangian particle tracking model, EcoSLIM, to track the location, movement and residence time of the snow and rain sources. After running the model for the present climate we selected CMIP6 climate model projections that lead to temperature rise from 1 °C to 2.5 °C. The present climate results show that the snowmelt contributes to 90 % of subsurface source particles compared to rain and has a higher residence time in the catchment. These snow particles along with sustaining the streamflow also help in providing water to plants and evapotranspiration during the dry periods. Under warmer climates, the snow to rain ratio decrease leads to more surface runoff and less recharge to the subsurface. The decrease in subsurface recharge leads to reduced surface moisture in the dry season, which directly impacts the evaporation and transpiration through the vegetation. Hence, the rapid global warming leads to a decrease in the snow and subsurface storage which may impact downstream communities in terms of water availability, and at the same time, decrease water availability for the mountain vegetation through reduced surface moisture. In conjunction, the overall mountain ecosystem gets adversely impacted.

How to cite: Gupta, A., Voisin, D., and Cohard, J.-M.: Snow/rain source mixing and residence time modeling in a sub-alpine mountainous catchment under global warming, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-7894,, 2022.


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