Articles | Volume 11, issue 2
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 11, 983–995, 2007
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-11-983-2007

Special issue: Thresholds and pattern dynamics: a new paradigm for predicting...

Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 11, 983–995, 2007
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-11-983-2007

  13 Mar 2007

13 Mar 2007

On the importance of including vegetation dynamics in Budyko's hydrological model

R. J. Donohue1,2, M. L. Roderick1, and T. R. McVicar2 R. J. Donohue et al.
  • 1Environmental Biology Group, Research School of Biological Sciences, Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 0200, Australia
  • 2CSIRO Land and Water and eWater Cooperative Research Centre, GPO Box 1666, Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia

Abstract. The Budyko curve describes the patterns observed between between climate, evapotranspiration and run-off and has proven to be a useful model for predicting catchment energy and water balances. In this paper we review the Budyko curve's underlying framework and, based on the literature, present an argument for why it is important to include vegetation dynamics into the framework for some purposes. The Budyko framework assumes catchments are at steady-state and are driven by the macro-climate, two conditions dependent on the scales of application, such that the framework's reliability is greatest when applied using long-term averages (≫1 year) and to large catchments (>10 000 km2). At these scales previous experience has shown that the hydrological role of vegetation does not need to be explicitly considered within the framework. By demonstrating how dynamics in the leaf area, photosynthetic capacity and rooting depth of vegetation affect not only annual and seasonal vegetation water use, but also steady-state conditions, we argue that it is necessary to explicitly include vegetation dynamics into the Budyko framework before it is applied at small scales. Such adaptations would extend the framework not only to applications at small timescales and/or small catchments but to operational activities relating to vegetation and water management.