Articles | Volume 10, issue 5
26 Sep 2006
26 Sep 2006

Catchments as space-time filters – a joint spatio-temporal geostatistical analysis of runoff and precipitation

J. O. Skøien and G. Blöschl

Abstract. In this paper catchments are conceptualised as linear space-time filters. Catchment area A is interpreted as the spatial support and the catchment response time T is interpreted as the temporal support of the runoff measurements. These two supports are related by T~Aκ which embodies the space-time connections of the rainfall-runoff process from a geostatistical perspective. To test the framework, spatio-temporal variograms are estimated from about 30 years of quarter hourly precipitation and runoff data from about 500 catchments in Austria. In a first step, spatio-temporal variogram models are fitted to the sample variograms for three catchment size classes independently. In a second step, variograms are fitted to all three catchment size classes jointly by estimating the parameters of a point/instantaneous spatio-temporal variogram model and aggregating (regularising) it to the spatial and temporal scales of the catchments. The exponential, Cressie-Huang and product-sum variogram models give good fits to the sample variograms of runoff with dimensionless errors ranging from 0.02 to 0.03, and the model parameters are plausible. This indicates that the first order effects of the spatio-temporal variability of runoff are indeed captured by conceptualising catchments as linear space-time filters. The scaling exponent κ is found to vary between 0.3 and 0.4 for different variogram models.