Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2021-259
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2021-259

  27 May 2021

27 May 2021

Review status: a revised version of this preprint was accepted for the journal HESS and is expected to appear here in due course.

How is Baseflow Index (BFI) impacted by water resource management practices?

John P. Bloomfield1, Mengyi Gong2,3, Benjamin P. Marchant1, Gemma Coxon4, and Nans Addor5 John P. Bloomfield et al.
  • 1British Geological Survey, Wallingford, OX10 8BB, UK
  • 2British Geological Survey, Keyworth, NG12 5GG, UK
  • 3Lancaster University, Lancaster, LA1 4YR, UK
  • 4University of Bristol, Bristol, BS8 1SS, UK
  • 5University of Exeter, Exeter, EX4 4RJ, UK

Abstract. Water resource management (WRM) practices, such as abstractions and discharges, may impact baseflow. Here the CAMELS-GB large-sample hydrology dataset is used to assess the impacts of such practices on baseflow index (BFI) using statistical models of 429 catchments from Great Britain. Two complementary modelling schemes, multiple linear regression (LR) and machine learning (random forests, RF), are used to investigate the relationship between BFI and two sets of covariates (natural covariates only and a combined set of natural and WRM covariates). The LR and RF models show good agreement between explanatory covariates. In all models, the extent of fractured aquifers, clay soils, non-aquifers, and crop cover in catchments, catchment topography and aridity are significant or important natural covariates in explaining BFI. When WRM terms are included, groundwater abstraction is significant or the most important WRM covariate in both modelling schemes and discharge to rivers is also identified as significant or influential, although natural covariates still provide the main explanatory power of the models. Surface water abstraction is a significant covariate in the LR model but of only minor importance in the RF model. Reservoir storage covariates are not significant or are unimportant in both the LR and RF models for this large-sample analysis. Inclusion of WRM terms improves the performance of some models in specific catchments. The LR models of high BFI catchments with relatively high levels of groundwater abstraction show the greatest improvements, and there is some evidence of improvement in LR models of catchments with moderate to high discharges. However, there is no evidence that the inclusion of the WRM covariates improves the performance of LR models for catchments with high surface water abstraction or that they improve the performance of the RF models. These observations are used to formulate a conceptual framework for baseflow generation that incorporates WRM practices. It is recommended that information on WRM, particularly groundwater abstraction, should be included where possible in future large-sample hydrological data sets and in the analysis and prediction of BFI and other measures of baseflow.

John P. Bloomfield et al.

Status: closed

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on hess-2021-259', Anonymous Referee #1, 24 Jun 2021
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', John Bloomfield, 02 Jul 2021
  • CC1: 'Comment on hess-2021-259', Mariaines Di Dato, 24 Jun 2021
    • AC2: 'Reply on CC1', John Bloomfield, 02 Jul 2021
  • RC2: 'Comment on hess-2021-259', Mariaines Di Dato, 23 Jul 2021
    • AC3: 'Reply on RC2', John Bloomfield, 26 Jul 2021

Status: closed

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on hess-2021-259', Anonymous Referee #1, 24 Jun 2021
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', John Bloomfield, 02 Jul 2021
  • CC1: 'Comment on hess-2021-259', Mariaines Di Dato, 24 Jun 2021
    • AC2: 'Reply on CC1', John Bloomfield, 02 Jul 2021
  • RC2: 'Comment on hess-2021-259', Mariaines Di Dato, 23 Jul 2021
    • AC3: 'Reply on RC2', John Bloomfield, 26 Jul 2021

John P. Bloomfield et al.

John P. Bloomfield et al.

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Short summary
Groundwater provides flow, known as baseflow, to surface streams and rivers. It is important as it sustains the flow of many rivers at times of water stress. However, it may be affected by water management practices. Statistical models have been used to show that in particular abstraction of groundwater influences baseflow. Consequently, it is recommended that information and data on groundwater abstraction is explicitly included in future assessments and predictions of baseflow.