Betterle, A; Radny, D; Schirmer, M; Botter, G: What Do They Have in Common? Drivers of Streamflow Spatial Correlation and Prediction of Flow Regimes in Ungauged Locations, Water Resources Research, 53, 10354-10373 (2017), online: 2017-11-27, doi:10.1002/2017WR021144 [Link]

The spatial correlation of daily streamflows represents a statistical index encapsulating the similarity between hydrographs at two arbitrary catchment outlets. In this work, a process-based analytical framework is utilized to investigate the hydrological drivers of streamflow spatial correlation through an extensive application to 78 pairs of stream gauges belonging to 13 unregulated catchments in the eastern United States. The analysis provides insight on how the observed heterogeneity of the physical processes that control flow dynamics ultimately affect streamflow correlation and spatial patterns of flow regimes. Despite the variability of recession properties across the study catchments, the impact of heterogeneous drainage rates on the streamflow spatial correlation is overwhelmed by the spatial variability of frequency and intensity of effective rainfall events. Overall, model performances are satisfactory, with root mean square errors between modeled and observed streamflow spatial correlation below 10% in most cases. We also propose a method for estimating  treamflow correlation in the absence of discharge data, which proves useful to predict streamflow regimes in ungauged areas. The method consists in setting a minimum threshold on the modeled flow correlation to individuate hydrologically similar sites. Catchment outlets that are most correlated (q > 0:9) are found to be characterized by analogous streamflow distributions across a broad range of flow regimes.

last modified 2018-11-02