Forcing, intermittency, and land surface hydrologic partitioning


Journal Article

Because of sampling problems, the precipitation estimates from satellite remote sensing are aggregated over time (typically monthly) and over space. Since land surface hydrologic processes have threshold and nonlinear dependencies on precipitation, coarse-resolution precipitation observations may not be directly used in hydrologic models. Differences in the character of intermittency of precipitation, the averaged values remaining the same, can in fact yield large differences in the hydrologic partitioning and therefore in the resulting climate. In this paper an equilibrium hydrologic model is used to study the influence of intermittency on the way precipitation is partitioned into different hydrological quantities. The parameters defining intensity and duration of storms are varied (keeping total precipitation volume constant), and the resulting effects on the partitioning into runoff, evaporation, recharge, and soil moisture storage are determined. It is found that the character of intermittency in storm arrivals has a large impact on the hydrologic partitioning. Furthermore, investigations on the sensitivity of hydrologic partitioning on soil type and water table depth show that rainfall intermittency plays a major role irrespective of these other factors. Runoff generation, evaporation, and groundwater recharge are the three main components of the water balance. Depending on the soil type and climate, the main competition is between different combinations of these three loss mechanisms. It is concluded that the temporal structure of storms has a strong influence on the long-term equilibrium state of the hydrological system.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Marani, M; Grossi, G; Napolitano, F; Wallace, M; Entekhabi, D

Published Date

  • January 1, 1997

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 33 / 1

Start / End Page

  • 167 - 175

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0043-1397

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1029/96WR02670

Citation Source

  • Scopus