Estimating mean long-term hydrologic budget components for watersheds and counties: An application to the commonwealth of Virginia, USA
Mean long-term hydrologic budget components, such as recharge and base flow, are often difficult to estimate because they can vary substantially in space and time. Mean long-term fluxes were calculated in this study for precipitation, surface runoff, infiltration, total evapotranspiration (ET), riparian ET, recharge, base flow (or groundwater discharge) and net total outflow using long-term estimates of mean ET and precipitation and the assumption that the relative change in storage over that 30-year period is small compared to the total ET or precipitation. Fluxes of these components were first estimated on a number of real-time-gaged watersheds across Virginia. Specific conductance was used to distinguish and separate surface runoff from base flow. Specific-conductance (SC) data were collected every 15 minutes at 75 real-time gages for approximately 18 months between March 2007 and August 2008. Precipitation was estimated for 1971-2000 using PRISM climate data. Precipitation and temperature from the PRISM data were used to develop a regression-based relation to estimate total ET. The proportion of watershed precipitation that becomes surface runoff was related to physiographic province and rock type in a runoff regression equation. A new approach to estimate riparian ET using seasonal SC data gave results consistent with those from other methods. Component flux estimates from the watersheds were transferred to flux estimates for counties and independent cities using the ET and runoff regression equations. Only 48 of the 75 watersheds yielded sufficient data, and data from these 48 were used in the final runoff regression equation. Final results for the study are presented as component flux estimates for all counties and independent cities in Virginia. The method has the potential to be applied in many other states in the U.S. or in other regions or countries of the world where climate and stream flow data are plentiful.
|Estimating mean long-term hydrologic budget components for watersheds and counties: An application to the commonwealth of Virginia, USA
|Ward E. Sanford, David L. Nelms, Jason P. Pope, David L. Selnick
|Hydrology: Current Research
|USGS Publications Warehouse
|National Research Program - Eastern Branch