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Storage-discharge characteristics of an alpine active rock glacier catchment – a multidisciplinary approach applied to the Innere Ölgrube, Austrian Alps
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  • Thomas Wagner,
  • Simon Kainz,
  • Karl Krainer,
  • Gerfried Winkler
Thomas Wagner
University of Graz Faculty of Natural Sciences
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Simon Kainz
University of Graz Faculty of Natural Sciences
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Karl Krainer
University of Innsbruck
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Gerfried Winkler
University of Graz Faculty of Natural Sciences
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Abstract

The active rock glacier “Innere Ölgrube”, and its catchment area (Ötztal Alps, Austria) are assessed using various hydro(geo)logical tools to provide a thorough catchment characterization and to quantify temporal variations in recharge and discharge components. During the period from June 2014 to July 2018, an average contribution derived from snowmelt, ice melt and rainfall of 35,8 %, 27,6 % and 36,6 %, respectively, is modelled for the catchment using a rainfall-runoff model. Discharge components of the rock glacier springs are distinguished using isotopic data as well as other natural and artificial tracer data, when considering the potential sources rainfall, snowmelt, ice melt and groundwater. Seasonal as well as diurnal variations in runoff are quantified and the importance of shallow groundwater within this rock glacier-influenced catchment is emphasized. Water derived from ice melt is suggested to be provided mainly by melting of two small cirque glaciers within the catchment and subordinately by melting of permafrost ice of the rock glacier. The active rock glacier is characterized by a layered internal structure with an unfrozen base layer responsible for groundwater storage and retarded runoff, a main permafrost body contributing little to the discharge (at the moment) by permafrost thaw and an active layer responsible for fast lateral flow on top of the permafrost body. Snowmelt contributes at least 1/3rd of the annual recharge. During droughts, meltwater derived from two cirque glaciers provides runoff with diurnal runoff variations; however, this discharge pattern will change as these cirque glaciers will ultimately disappear in the future. The storage-discharge characteristics of the investigated active rock glacier catchment are an example of a shallow groundwater aquifer in alpine catchments that ought to be considered when analysing (future) river runoff characteristics in alpine catchments as these provide retarded runoff during periods with little or no recharge.

Peer review status:ACCEPTED

22 Dec 2020Submitted to Hydrological Processes
23 Dec 2020Submission Checks Completed
23 Dec 2020Assigned to Editor
23 Dec 2020Reviewer(s) Assigned
18 Feb 2021Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
19 Feb 2021Editorial Decision: Revise Major
25 Feb 20211st Revision Received
26 Feb 2021Submission Checks Completed
26 Feb 2021Assigned to Editor
26 Feb 2021Reviewer(s) Assigned
23 Apr 2021Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
23 Apr 2021Editorial Decision: Revise Major
03 May 20212nd Revision Received
03 May 2021Assigned to Editor
03 May 2021Submission Checks Completed
03 May 2021Reviewer(s) Assigned
05 May 2021Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
05 May 2021Editorial Decision: Accept