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Quantification of Alpine water resources revisited

English title Quantification of Alpine water resources revisited
Applicant Schaefli Bettina
Number 157611
Funding scheme SNSF Professorships
Research institution Institut des dynamiques de la surface terrestre Université de Lausanne
Institution of higher education University of Lausanne - LA
Main discipline Hydrology, Limnology, Glaciology
Start/End 01.02.2016 - 31.08.2020
Approved amount 1'511'049.00
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All Disciplines (2)

Discipline
Hydrology, Limnology, Glaciology
Other disciplines of Engineering Sciences

Keywords (13)

Alps; glacier; climate change; parameter estimation; global change; hydrology; snow; water resources; rainfall-runoff modelling; hydropower; Bayesian inference; prediction uncertainty; isotopes

Lay Summary (French)

Lead
Les ressources en eau Alpines sont convoitées par un grand nombre d’utilisateurs et leur exploitation doit tenir compte des besoins environnementaux. Dans un contexte de pression croissante sur les ressources naturelles en générale, une quantification fiable des ressources effectivement disponibles est de prime importance pour gérer les multiples intérêts et pour élaborer des scénarios futurs.
Lay summary

Objectifs du travail de recherche

Ce projet de recherche propose de mieux quantifier l’origine des eaux en milieu Alpin afin d’améliorer les modèles de simulations pluie-débit (des modèles qui simulent le débit d’un bassin versant à partir de séries de précipitations et de température) qui sont aujourd’hui couramment utilisés pour faire des projections de débits futurs. Une composante importante de ce travail de recherche sont les observations sur le terrain qui permettront de mieux comprendre comment l’eau de pluie et de fonte de neige et de glace s’écoule, où elle est stockée, combien de temps et comment elle atteigne finalement la rivière principale. Ces campagnes de mesures (qui incluront des mesures des isotopes stables de l’eau) auront notamment lieu dans le bassin du Vallon de Nant dans le Canton de Vaud mais également dans des bassins versants valaisans à des plus hautes altitudes.

 

Contexte scientifique et méthodes

Au centre du projet de recherche est le développement et l’application d’une nouvelle approche qui combine des observations hydrologiques et la modélisation. Les étapes principales sont i) l’élaboration d’hypothèses détaillées sur les chemins d’écoulement de l’eau dans le milieu Alpin choisi et les temps de séjour qui y sont associés, ii) des tests de ces hypothèses à l’aide de l’analyse des données récoltées sur le terrain et à l’aide d’un modèle hydrologique, iii) la quantification des sources d’incertitudes de la simulation de débit en milieu Alpin (erreurs d’observations, incertitudes découlant du modèle) et iv) le transfert des nouvelles connaissances à des bassins versant avec moins de données observées.

Les données sur les isotopes stables de l’eau compléteront le peu d’observations existantes en haute montagne. Elles seront mises à disposition d’autres chercheurs. Le modèle de simulation qui permettra de simuler des débits et des bilans de masse de traceurs et leurs incertitudes sera le premier de ce type pour la haute montagne.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 12.04.2017

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Publications

Datasets

Salt gauging and stage-discharge curve, Avançon de Nant, outlet Vallon de Nant catchment

Author Ceperley, Natalie; Michelon, Anthony; Escoffier, Nicolas; Mayoraz, Guillaume; Boix Canadell, Marta; Horgby, Asa; Hammer, Félicie; Antoniazza, Gilles; Schaefli, Bettina; Lane, Stuart; Rickenmann, Dieter; Boss, Stefan
Publication date 18.01.2018
Persistent Identifier (PID) 10.5281/zenodo.1154797
Repository Zenodo


Weather dataset from Vallon de Nant, Switzerland, until July 2017, accessible at

Author Michelon, Anthony; Schaefli, Bettina; Ceperley, Natalie; Beria, Harsh
Publication date 06.11.2017
Persistent Identifier (PID) 10.5281/zenodo.1042472
Repository Zenodo


Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
A. Schleiss LCH/EPFL Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
A. Rinaldo, ECHO/EPFL Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
T. Blume / GFZ Potsdam Germany (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
D. Kavetski, University of Adelaide Australia (Oceania)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
M. Lehning SLF and Cryos / EPFL Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
R. Woods / University of Bristol Great Britain and Northern Ireland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
EGU general Assembly, Vienna Talk given at a conference Estimating groundwater recharge from summer and winter precipitation in Switzerland – a combination of hydrological recession analysis and stable water isotopes 10.04.2018 Vienna, Austria Larsen Joshua; Schaefli Bettina; Ceperley Natalie; Michelon Anthony; Beria Harsh;
AGU Fall meeting New Orleans Talk given at a conference How much of stream and groundwater comes from snow? A stable isotope perspective in the Swiss Alps, 08.12.2017 New Orleans, United States of America Schaefli Bettina; Michelon Anthony; Larsen Joshua; Ceperley Natalie; Beria Harsh;
EGU Leonardo conference on Water stable isotopes in the hydrological cycle Talk given at a conference How much does snow contribute to groundwater recharge? A Bayesian approach to inverse estimation of source contributions 16.10.2017 Saigerhöh, Germany Schaefli Bettina; Larsen Joshua; Beria Harsh;
EGU Leonardo conference on Water stable isotopes in the hydrological cycle Talk given at a conference Learning from regional isotopic lapse rates in rainfall and groundwater 16.10.2017 Saigerhöh, Germany Schaefli Bettina; Larsen Joshua; Ceperley Natalie;
EGU General Assembly Talk given at a conference Consequences of Alpine Vegetation Change for Water Resources 08.04.2017 Vienna, Austria Schaefli Bettina; Michelon Anthony; Larsen Joshua; Beria Harsh; Ceperley Natalie;
EGU GEneral Assembly Poster Assessment of snow-dominated water resources: (Ir-)relevant scales for observation and modelling 08.04.2017 Vienna, Austria Schaefli Bettina; Michelon Anthony; Beria Harsh; Ceperley Natalie; Larsen Joshua;
EGU General Assembly Poster A continuous high resolution water isotope dataset to constrain Alpine water balance estimates 08.04.2017 Vienna, Austria Ceperley Natalie; Larsen Joshua; Beria Harsh; Schaefli Bettina; Michelon Anthony;


Self-organised

Title Date Place
Catchment Hydrology at EGU Annual Meeting in Vienna 08.04.2017 Vienna, Austria

Abstract

Main objective & context: In the context of growing competition for Alpine water resources between humans and nature, small changes in percentage of water availability may give rise to intense multi-stakeholder negotiations. This research programme proposes to quantify the origin of available water resources as an essential ingredient for a more precise assessment of possible future scenarios, which is a prerequisite for sustainable water use (e.g. for hydropower production). Most available water resources projections rely on model predictions obtained using relatively poor quality observed precipitation, discharge and glacier mass balance data. To critically improve our understanding of the involved natural processes and to increase the reliability of such prediction models, an actual characterisation of the origin of observed river water (from recent precipitation or older accumulations in glaciers and permafrost) is required. Proposed research & approach: The research will address novel questions on the origin of Alpine water based on a combined experimental-modelling approach: Stable water isotope tracers in different water stores will be used as fingerprints to formulate testable hydrological hypotheses about the origin of the water and what mixing processes it has undergone. The viability of these hypotheses will be evaluated with the help of a catchment-scale model with a flexible model structure. The key hereby will be a more precise quantification of where Alpine water is stored, followed by proper accounting for dominant sources of modelling uncertainties to ensure robust conclusions on the origin of observed water resources. Approach: The core of the proposed research will be the development and application of an original, combined experimental-modelling framework. The research will be completed in 4 work packages: 1) Hypothesis formulation: Collection of existing and new tracer data to quantify the origin of water in different compartments (snow, soil, moraine, (rock-) glaciers); formulation of hypotheses about dominant hydrological processes and translation of these hypotheses into a perceptual model that can be encoded in a numerical model. 2) Modelling: Development of a catchment-scale hydrological input-output model with a flexible model structure that can predict the transport of water and tracers through the different storage compartments. Testing of how different model structures can reproduce observed data and what information is missing to properly constrain the model. 3) Uncertainty quantification: Development of a Bayesian framework to quantify the modelling uncertainties for the tracer simulation in the experimental catchment and prediction of water resources uncertainties for present and near-future situations. 4) Synthesis: Application of the Bayesian framework to quantify the uncertainties in predicting the water resources in catchments without additional observations about the origin of observed discharge and propagation of these uncertainties into plausible near-future climate and land use change scenarios.Implementation & personnel: The research will be hosted at the Institute of Earth Surface Dynamics (IDYST) of University of Lausanne. The research group will be composed of the principal investigator (PI), two PhD students (full-time 4 years) and a postdoc (full-time 4 years). At the interface of ongoing research in several groups of the host institute, the research will fully benefit from and contribute to the expertise in analysing and modelling environmental processes. Data: The research will make use of the hydro-meteorological data available in the experimental Vallon de Nant catchment of the host institute, where all additional field campaigns are also to take place. Discharge and meteorological data for other Swiss catchments are available from the Federal offices, additional isotope tracer data through (inter-)national collaborations. The research will draw benefit from the excellent measurement equipment and lab facilities at the host institute.Outcome: The outcome of this research is threefold. It will: (i) Assess, for selected high Alpine catchments, the origin of available water resources and provide a more robust assessment of their potential future evolution. (ii) Unravel potential shortcomings and related uncertainties in model-based predictions of future water resources with direct relevance for water and ecosystem management. (iii) Synthesize how isotope tracer data can reduce water resources prediction uncertainty in high Alpine environments.Innovation: The isotopic data set will be one of the largest for high Alpine environments. The modelling framework will be the first one that builds upon an explicit integration of water and isotope tracer mass balance in a single model to assess the water resources in high Alpine areas on a range of time scales relevant for water resources management (daily to annual) and including uncertainty quantification. This is both an important but also a truly unique endeavour.
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