Modeling of solute transport in snow using conservative tracers and artificial rain-on-snow experiments

Jeonghoon Lee, Xiahong Feng, Eric S. Posmentier, Anthony M. Faiia, Randall Osterhuber, James W. Kirchner

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18 Scopus citations


We report a study of solute transport in snow, using artificial rain-on-snow experiments with conservative anions (F-, Br -, and SO42-). The tracers were mixed into tap water and sprayed onto the snow surface from two water supply tanks. The water flux out of the base of the snowpack was recorded, and discharge samples were collected and analyzed for the three tracers. The chemical concentration of tracers in the discharge was negatively associated with the water flux. The objectives of the experiment were to test whether the mobile-immobile model (MIM) with variable mobile-immobile water exchange coefficient can simulate both positive and negative concentration-discharge relationships in this and previous tracer experiments. By simulating our experimental data, we confirm that it is necessary for the exchange coefficient to increase with water velocity. In addition, we use the model to show that with a diurnal variation of clean water flux, a negative concentration-discharge relationship occurs when solutes are evenly distributed in the mobile and immobile fluids, while a positive relationship occurs when the solutes were present only in the immobile fluid near the surface. This result may help in explaining the complicated concentration-discharge relationships observed in catchments.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberW02411
JournalWater Resources Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2008


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