Project summary

Mountain catchments are often influenced by snow, which affects runoff seasonality. However, snow amounts have been decreasing in many regions over the last decades, and spring snowmelt has shifted and occurs earlier in the year. This suggests that snow responds to increasing air temperatures due to climate change. However, higher snowpack generates higher groundwater recharge driven by snowmelt rates and thus contributes more to streamflow. Therefore, higher elevations are important for catchment storage and crucial to stabilize streamflow at lower elevations especially during drought periods.

Catchment storage is an essential characteristic of the catchment since higher catchment storage means better buffering of meteorological extremes. Catchment storage controls the partitioning between evaporation and runoff, and influences transit times of water. Therefore, the objectives of the proposed PhD project are 1) to quantify catchment storage in selected mountain catchments in the rain-snow transition zone using field and modelling approaches and to relate it to climate variability and catchment attributes, and 2) to investigate how changes in both temporal and spatial distribution of water sources affects catchment storage and runoff. Since the streamflow generation may be vulnerable to loss of snow, the project will help to understand how rain and snowmelt is partitioned between soil storage, groundwater recharge, evapotranspiration, and runoff which is important for future water availability.

The project solution will combine field investigations of the mechanism of snowmelt runoff generation (using e.g. water stable isotopes and EC data) with hydrological models to transfer the field information to a catchment scale. The modelling approaches will be used to simulate the effect of predicted climate change on snow and catchment storage and consequent runoff. This enables to identify areas potentially affected by the mentioned future hydrological change.

The candidate will be a member of an international project “Mountain snowmelt and its importance for catchment storage and runoff (MountSnow)” which is a joint project of the Charles University, Department of Physical Geography and Geoecology, Prague (PI Michal Jenicek) and University of Zurich, Department of Geography (Jan Seibert). The candidate will be primarily based in Prague. Nevertheless, close collaboration with Jan Seibert and the Hydrology and Climate group at University of Zurich will be essential, including occasional visits and potential fieldworks.

Selected publications of the research group related to the project

Jenicek, M., Hnilica, J., Nedelcev, O., Sipek, V. (2021). Future changes in snowpack will impact seasonal runoff and low flows in Czechia. Journal of Hydrology: Regional Studies, 37, 100899.

Nedelcev O., Jenicek, M. (2021). Trends in seasonal snowpack and their relation to climate variables in mountain catchments in Czechia, Hydrological Sciences Journal, 66 (16), 2340-2356.

Lendzioch T, Langhammer J, Vlček L, Minařík R. (2021): Mapping the Groundwater Level and Soil Moisture of a Montane Peat Bog Using UAV Monitoring and Machine Learning. Remote Sensing. 13(5):907.

Jenicek, M., Ledvinka, O. (2020). Importance of snowmelt contribution to seasonal runoff and summer low flows in Czechia. Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, 24 (7), 3475–3491.

Girons Lopez M., Vis, M.J.P., Jenicek, M., Griessinger, N., Seibert, J. (2020). Assessing the degree of detail of temperature-based snow routines for runoff modelling in mountainous areas in central Europe. Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, 24, 4441–4461.

Jenicek, M., Seibert, J., Staudinger, M. (2018). Modeling of future changes in seasonal snowpack and impacts on summer low flows in Alpine catchments, Water Resources Research, 54(1), 538-556.

Su, Y., Langhammer, J., Jarsjo, J. (2017). Geochemical responses of forested catchments to bark beetle infestation: Evidence from high frequency in-stream electrical conductivity monitoring, Journal of Hydrology, 550, 635–649.

Jenicek, M., Seibert, J., Zappa, M., Staudinger, M., and Jonas, T. (2016). Importance of maximum snow accumulation for summer low flows in humid catchments. Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, 20, 859-874,

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