Articles | Volume 17, issue 10
Research article
31 Oct 2013
Research article |  | 31 Oct 2013

Evaluating the effect of partial contributing storage on the storage–discharge function from recession analysis

X. Chen and D. Wang

Abstract. Hydrograph recession during dry periods has been used to construct water storage–discharge relationships and to quantify storage dynamics and evaporation when streamflow data is available. However, variable hydrologic connectivity among hillslope–riparian–stream zones may affect the lumped storage–discharge relationship, and as a result, affect the estimation of evaporation and storage change. Given observations of rainfall and runoff, and remote-sensing-based observations of evaporation, the ratio (α) between estimated daily evaporation from recession analysis and observed evaporation, and the ratio (β) between estimated contributing storage and total watershed storage are computed for 9 watersheds located in different climate regions. Both evaporation and storage change estimation from recession analysis are underestimated due to the effect of partial contributing storage, particularly when the discharge is low. It was found that the values of α decrease significantly during individual recession events, while the values of β are relatively stable during a recession event. The values of β are negatively correlated with the water table depth and vary significantly among recession events. The partial contributing storage effect is one possible cause for the multi-valued storage–discharge relationship.