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Episodic master recession evaluation of groundwater and streamflow hydrographs for water-resource estimation

December 20, 2018

Hydrograph analysis tools using a master recession curve (MRC) can produce many types of hydrologically important watershed-response quantifications, including aquifer recharge and stormflow characterization. An MRC is the relation between the value of a measured response R and its rate of change with time, dR/dt, occurring on the falling limb when there is no infiltration or other water input. We have developed MRC and episodic hydrograph-evaluation methods for multiple purposes, utilizing both water table and streamflow data. The determination of a parameterized MRC through a structured procedure provides a basis for quantification of hydrologic variables and characteristics that can be validly compared among different events, sites, and periods of time. Application of the MRC to needed hydrologic quantifications is done with our revised episodic master recession (EMR) method. Expert-guided iterative procedures are used to quantify parameters needed in applying the MRC and EMR methods to a given site. Hydrologic judgments such as the significance threshold for response magnitude, and the time window within which the precipitation is assumed to be the cause of an observed response, inherently involve some elements of subjectivity. Our structured iterative approach, however, affords much flexibility in formulating expert judgments and serves to confine them to statements and procedures that can be quantified and documented. Parallel application to streamflow and water table hydrographs can produce new hydrologic insights and understanding, not least in the role of unsaturated zone processes in controlling exchanges among components of the water cycle.

Publication Year 2018
Title Episodic master recession evaluation of groundwater and streamflow hydrographs for water-resource estimation
DOI 10.2136/vzj2018.03.0050
Authors John R. Nimmo, Kimberlie Perkins
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Vadose Zone Journal
Index ID 70201770
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization National Research Program - Western Branch