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Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  14 Jul 2020

14 Jul 2020

Review status
This preprint is currently under review for the journal HESS.

Exploring the role of hydrological pathways in modulating North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) teleconnection periodicities from UK rainfall to streamflow

William Rust1, Mark Cuthbert2, John Bloomfield3, Ron Corstanje4, Nicholas Howden5, and Ian Holman1 William Rust et al.
  • 1Cranfield Water Science Institute (CWSI), Cranfield University, Bedford MK43 0AL
  • 2School of Earth and Ocean Sciences, Cardiff University, Park Place, Cardiff, CF10 3AT
  • 3British Geological Survey, Wallingford, OX10 8ED
  • 4Centre for Environment and Agricultural Informatics, Cranfield University, Bedford MK43 0AL
  • 5Queen's Building, University Walk, Clifton BS8 1TR

Abstract. An understanding of multi-annual behaviour in streamflow allows for better estimation of the risks associated with hydrological extremes. This is can enable improved preparedness for streamflow-dependant services such as freshwater ecology, drinking water supply and agriculture. Recently, efforts have focused on detecting relationships between long-term hydrological behaviour and oscillatory climate systems (such as the NAO). For instance, the approximate 7-year periodicity of the NAO has been detected in groundwater level records in the North Atlantic region, providing a degree of forecasting for future water resource extremes due to their repeating, periodic nature. However, the extent to which these 7-year NAO-like signals are propagated to streamflow, and the catchment processes that modulate this propagation, are currently unknown. Here, we show statistically significant evidence that these 7-year periodicities are present in streamflow (and associated catchment rainfall), by applying multi-resolution analysis to a large dataset of streamflow and associated catchment rainfall across the UK. Our results provide new evidence for spatial patterns of NAO periodicities in UK rainfall with areas of greatest NAO signal found in south west England, South Wales, Northern Ireland and central Scotland, and that NAO-like periodicities account for a greater proportion of streamflow variability in these areas. Furthermore, we show that subsurface pathway contribution, as characterised by the Baseflow Index (BFI), and the response times of subsurface pathways, as characterised by Groundwater response Time (GRT), are influential factors for streamflow sensitivity to these NAO-like cycles. Our results provide critical process understanding for the screening and use of streamflow teleconnections for the improving the practice and policy of long-term streamflow resource management.

William Rust et al.

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William Rust et al.

William Rust et al.


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Publications Copernicus
Short summary
In this paper we find evidence for the cyclical behaviour (on a 7-year basis) in UK streamflow records that match the main cycle of the North Atlantic Oscillation. Furthermore we find that the strength of these 7-year cycles in streamflow is dependent on proportional contribution from groundwater, and the response times of the underlying groundwater systems. This may allow for improvements to water management practices through better understanding of long term streamflow behaviour.
In this paper we find evidence for the cyclical behaviour (on a 7-year basis) in UK streamflow...