Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2024-119
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2024-119
06 May 2024
 | 06 May 2024
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal HESS.

Surface water storage influences streamflow signatures

Melanie K. Vanderhoof, Peter Nieuwlandt, Heather E. Golden, Charles R. Lane, Jay R. Christensen, Will Keenan, and Wayana Dolan

Abstract. Extreme flow conditions in river discharge have far-reaching environmental and economic consequences. The retention of surface water in lakes, wetlands, and floodplains can potentially moderate these extreme flows by modifying the timing, duration, and magnitude of flow generation. However, efforts to characterize the impact of surface water storage on river discharge have been limited in geographic extent. In this analysis, a suite of hydrologic signatures, quantifying components of watershed flow regimes, was calculated from daily discharge at 72 gaged watersheds across the conterminous United States. Random forest models were developed to explain variability in six hydrologic signatures related to flashiness and high and low flow conditions. In addition to traditionally considered variables such as climate, land cover, topography, and geology, a novel remote sensing (Sentinel-1 & 2) approach was used to study the contribution of surface water storage dynamics to each signature's variability. While climate variables explained much of the variability in the hydrologic signatures, models for five of the six signatures showed an improvement in explanatory power when landscape characteristics were added. Automated variable selection is part of the modeling process and can be indicative of the relative importance of certain variables over others. When all variables were considered, four of the six signature models selected remotely sensed inundation variables. The amount of semi-permanent and permanent floodplain inundation, for example, was both negatively correlated with, and showed the greatest variable importance for wet season flashiness. Further, increases in seasonal floodplain inundation were positively correlated with increases in peak flows. This suggests that the storage of surface water on floodplains is relevant to both flashiness and high flow signatures. In addition, spatial variability in the amount of semi-permanent and permanent non-floodplain water helped explain variability in the baseflow index. These findings suggest that watershed surface water storage dynamics explain a portion of streamflow signature variability. The results underscore the need for protection and restoration of surface water storage systems, such as wetlands, across watersheds.

Publisher's note: Copernicus Publications remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims made in the text, published maps, institutional affiliations, or any other geographical representation in this preprint. The responsibility to include appropriate place names lies with the authors.
Melanie K. Vanderhoof, Peter Nieuwlandt, Heather E. Golden, Charles R. Lane, Jay R. Christensen, Will Keenan, and Wayana Dolan

Status: open (until 01 Jul 2024)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
Melanie K. Vanderhoof, Peter Nieuwlandt, Heather E. Golden, Charles R. Lane, Jay R. Christensen, Will Keenan, and Wayana Dolan
Melanie K. Vanderhoof, Peter Nieuwlandt, Heather E. Golden, Charles R. Lane, Jay R. Christensen, Will Keenan, and Wayana Dolan

Viewed

Total article views: 232 (including HTML, PDF, and XML)
HTML PDF XML Total BibTeX EndNote
165 59 8 232 6 4
  • HTML: 165
  • PDF: 59
  • XML: 8
  • Total: 232
  • BibTeX: 6
  • EndNote: 4
Views and downloads (calculated since 06 May 2024)
Cumulative views and downloads (calculated since 06 May 2024)

Viewed (geographical distribution)

Total article views: 237 (including HTML, PDF, and XML) Thereof 237 with geography defined and 0 with unknown origin.
Country # Views %
  • 1
1
 
 
 
 
Latest update: 24 May 2024
Download
Short summary
Streamflow signatures can help characterize a watershed’s response to rainfall and snowmelt events. We explored if surface water storage-related variables, which are typically excluded from streamflow signature analyses, may help explain the variability in streamflow signatures. We found that remotely sensed surface water storage watershed location and hydroperiod were correlated with or explained a portion of the variability in hydrologic signatures across 72 streamflow gages.