Isotopic hydrograph separation using artificial Rain-on-snow experiments and its implications by each tracer

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debate


Many studies using tracers have been conducted to understand a physical process in a system. Rain-on-snow could accelerate snowmelt processes, which influences the hydrological process in both temperate and polar regions. Hydrological and ecological conditions will be affected by the amount and timing of discharge reaching the bottom of a snowpack. The discharge consists of the rain-on-snow, pore water penetrating into the snowpack and natural meltwater. In this study, after a rain-on-snow experiment, we conducted an isotopic hydrograph separation to distinguish rainwater and pore water from meltwater. Using the isotopic data of snow and meltwater from Lee et al. (2010), two components were separated based on the assumption that rainwater and pore water are new water and natural meltwater is old water. After the second rain-on-snow experiment, the maximum contributions of rainwater and pore water reached up to 69% of the discharge and then decreased. During the study period, the measured total discharge was 4153. L and 40% (based on hydrogen isotope) of rainwater and pore water was calculated in the discharge, which is not consistent with what Lee et al. (2016) calculated using chemical separation (63%). This inconsistency can be explained by how an end-member was defined in both approaches. The contributions of artificial rainonsnow and pore water to melwater discharge range between the two methods. This study will suggest a mixing calculation from isotopic compositions of the Southern Ocean.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)331-338
Number of pages8
JournalOcean and Polar Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016, Korea Ocean Research and Development Institute. All rights reserved.


  • Hydrograph separation
  • Meltwater
  • Rainonsnow
  • Stable water isotopes


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