A methodology has been derived which allows an estimate to be made of the daily streamflow at any point within the Burdekin catchment in the dry tropics of Australia. The input data requirements are daily rainfall (to drive the rainfall–runoff model) and mean average wet season rainfall, total length of streams, percent cropping and percent forest in the catchment (to regionalize the parameters of the rainfall–runoff model). The method is based on the use of a simple, lumped parameter rainfall–runoff model, IHACRES (Identification of unit Hydrographs And Component flows from Rainfall, Evaporation and Streamflow data). Of the five parameters in the model, three have been set to constants to reflect regional conditions while the other two have been related to physio-climatic attributes of the catchment under consideration. The parameter defining total catchment water yield (c) has been estimated based on the mean average wet season rainfall, while the streamflow recession time constant (τ) has been estimated based on the total length of streams, percent cropping and percent forest in the catchment. These relationships have been shown to be applicable over a range of scales from 68–130,146 km2. However, three separate relationships were required to define c in the three major physiographic regions of the Burdekin: the upper Burdekin, Bowen and Suttor/lower Burdekin. The invariance of the relationships with scale indicates that the dominant processes may be similar across a range of scales. The fact that different relationships were required for each of the three major regions indicates the geographic limitations of this regionalization approach. For most of the 24 gauged catchments within the Burdekin the regionalized rainfall–runoff models were nearly as good as or better than the rainfall–runoff models calibrated to the observed streamflow. In addition, models often performed better over the simulation period than the calibration period. This indicates that future improvements in regionalization should focus on improving the quality of input data and rainfall–runoff model conceptualization rather than on the regionalization procedure per se.

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