• What happens to snow when it melts? Stable water isotopes informing cold climate hydrological modelling
    • Pertti Ala-Aho (University of Oulu, Finland)
    • March 01, 2019

My research aims to better understand the fundamental role of snow and snowmelt in Northern hydrology. I use stable water isotopes as a tracer to study snow and snowmelt processes, and the following catchment response during freshet. Isotopic composition of snow is distinctly different from other water stored in catchments, which in principle makes isotopes a good tracer to track water fluxes during snowmelt. However, because of poor understanding of isotopic evolution of snowpack, and practical difficulties in sampling snowpack and snowmelt, the use stable water isotopes in cold climate hydrology - and hydrological modeling – is far from its full potential. I this seminar I present (i) measurements and simulations of snowpack and snowmelt isotopic composition (ii) spatially distributed tracer-aided rainfall-runoff model (STARR) to understand snowmelt runoff generation in Northern research catchments, and (iii) ongoing work to characterize the snowpack isotope composition and track snowmelt runoff in the North slopes of Alaska and subarctic Finland.

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