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Reservoirs as sentinels of catchments: the Rappbode Reservoir Observatory (Harz Mountains, Germany)

Abstract

Reservoirs can be viewed as sentinels of their catchments and a detailed monitoring of reservoir systems informs about biogeochemical and hydrological processes at the catchment scale. We developed a comprehensive online monitoring system at Rappbode reservoir, the largest drinking water reservoir in Germany, and its inflows. The Rappbode Reservoir Observatory comprises of a set of online-sensors for the measurement of physical, chemical, and biological variables and is complemented by a biweekly limnological sampling schedule. Measurement stations are deployed at the four major inflows into the system, at the outlets of all pre-reservoirs, as well as in the main reservoir. The newly installed monitoring system serves both scientific monitoring and process studies, as well as reservoir management. Particular emphasis is paid to the monitoring of short-term dynamics and many variables are measured at high temporal resolution. As an example, we quantitatively documented a flood event which mobilised high loads of dissolved organic carbon and changed the characteristics of the receiving reservoir from eutrophic to dystrophic within a few days. This event could have been completely missed by conventional biweekly sampling programs, but is relevant for biogeochemical fluxes at the catchment scale. We also show that the high frequency data provide a deeper insight into ecosystem dynamics and lake metabolism. The Rappbode Reservoir Observatory; moreover, offers a unique study site to apply, validate, and develop state of the art lake models to improve their predictive capabilities.

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Acknowledgments

The research was funded by TERENO (Terrestrial Environmental Observatories; www.tereno.net) and by the German Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) under Grant No. 033L003A. We are grateful to Ecotech GmbH (Bonn, Germany) for their broad support during the setting-up of the observatory and for additional adaptations during the testing phase of the sensors. We want to thank our colleagues from the Department of Lake Research for their help during the installation of the observatory and the regular maintenance operations.

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Correspondence to Karsten Rinke.

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Rinke, K., Kuehn, B., Bocaniov, S. et al. Reservoirs as sentinels of catchments: the Rappbode Reservoir Observatory (Harz Mountains, Germany). Environ Earth Sci 69, 523–536 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12665-013-2464-2

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s12665-013-2464-2

Keywords

  • Monitoring
  • Watersheds
  • Water quality management
  • Short-term dynamics
  • Reservoir management
  • Flood event