Regionalization of land-use impacts on streamflow using a network of paired catchments

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Title: Regionalization of land-use impacts on streamflow using a network of paired catchments
Authors: Ochoa-Tocachi, B
Buytaert, W
De Bièvre, B
Item Type: Journal Article
Abstract: Quantifying the impact of land use and cover (LUC) change on catchment hydrological response is essential for land-use planning and management. Yet hydrologists are often not able to present consistent and reliable evidence to support such decision-making. The issue tends to be twofold: a scarcity of relevant observations, and the difficulty of regionalizing any existing observations. This study explores the potential of a paired catchment monitoring network to provide statistically robust, regionalized predictions of LUC change impact in an environment of high hydrological variability. We test the importance of LUC variables to explain hydrological responses and to improve regionalized predictions using 24 catchments distributed along the Tropical Andes. For this, we calculate first 50 physical catchment properties, and then select a subset based on correlation analysis. The reduced set is subsequently used to regionalize a selection of hydrological indices using multiple linear regression. Contrary to earlier studies, we find that incorporating LUC variables in the regional model structures increases significantly regression performance and predictive capacity for 66% of the indices. For the runoff ratio, baseflow index, and slope of the flow duration curve, the mean absolute error reduces by 53% and the variance of the residuals by 79%, on average. We attribute the explanatory capacity of LUC in the regional model to the pairwise monitoring setup, which increases the contrast of the land-use signal in the data set. As such, it may be a useful strategy to optimize data collection to support watershed management practices and improve decision-making in data-scarce regions.
Issue Date: 3-Sep-2016
Date of Acceptance: 13-Aug-2016
ISSN: 1944-7973
Publisher: American Geophysical Union (AGU)
Start Page: 6710
End Page: 6729
Journal / Book Title: Water Resources Research
Volume: 52
Issue: 9
Copyright Statement: © 2016. The Authors.This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Sponsor/Funder: Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)
Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)
Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)
Imperial College London
Natural Environment Research Council [2006-2012]
Secretaria Nacional de Educación Superior, Ciencia, Tecnología e Innovación
Funder's Grant Number: NE/I004017/1
IC PhD Scholarships
Beca Universidades de Excelencia 2013
Keywords: Environmental Engineering
0905 Civil Engineering
0907 Environmental Engineering
1402 Applied Economics
Publication Status: Accepted
Open Access location:
Appears in Collections:Faculty of Engineering
Civil and Environmental Engineering
Centre for Environmental Policy
Faculty of Natural Sciences

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