Distribution of stable isotopes in arid storms . I. Relation between the distribution of isotopic composition in rainfall and in the consequent runoff
Temporal distributions of the isotopic composition in arid rain storms and in the associated runoff were investigated in a small arid rocky basin in Israel. Customized rain and runoff samplers provided sequential water samples hermetically sealed in high-density PVC bags. In several storms where the runoff was isotopically depleted, compared with the rainfall, the difference could not be explained by fractionation effects occurring during overland flow. A water-balance study relating the runoff discharge to rainfall over a rocky watershed showed that the entire discharge is produced by a very small segment (1-2mm) of the rain storm. The major objective, therefore, was to provide quantitative relations between segments of rainfall (rain showers and rain spells) and runoff. The time distribution of the composition of stable isotopes (oxygen and hydrogen) was used to quantify the correlation between the rain spell's amount and the consequent runoff. The aim of this work was to (a) utilize the dynamic variations in the isotopic composition in rainfall and runoff and model the magnitude of surface-storage capacity associated with runoff processes of overland flow, and (b) characterize the isotopic composition of the percolating water with respect to the isotopic distribution in rainfall and runoff events. The conceptual model postulates an isotopic mixing of overland flow with water within the depression storage. A transport model was then formulated in order to estimate the physical watershed parameters that control the development of overland flow from a certain rainfall period. Part I (this paper) presents the results and the assessment of the relative depression storage obtained from oxygen-18 and deuterium analyses that lead to the physical and mathematical formulation of a double-component model of kinematic-wave flow and transport, which is presented in Part II (accompanying paper).