By integrating groundwater, surface water and vadose zone systems, the terrestrial hydrologic system can be used to spatially map water balance characteristics spanning local to global scales, even when long-term stream gauge data are unavailable. The Watershed Characteristics Approach (WCA) is a hydrologic estimation model developed using a system-based approach focused on the regionalization of landscape characteristics to define unique hierarchical hydrogeological units (HHUs) and establish their link to hydrologic characteristics. Although the WCA can be used to map any hydrologic variable, its validity is demonstrated by summarizing results generated by applying the methodology to quantify the renewable groundwater flux at a spatial scale lacking long-term stream gauge monitoring data. Landscape components for 97 East-Central Minnesota (ECM) watersheds were summarized and used to identify which unique combinations of characteristics statistically influenced mean annual minimum groundwater recharge. These resulting combinations of landscape characteristics defined each HHU; as additional characteristics were applied, units were refined to create a hierarchical organization. Results were mapped to spatially represent the renewable groundwater flux for ECM, demonstrating how hydrologic regionalization can address knowledge gaps in multi-scale processes and aid in quantifying water balance components, an essential key to sustainable water resources management.
Regionalization of landscape characteristics to map hydrologic variables
H. M. Peterson, J. L. Nieber, R. Kanivetsky, B. Shmagin; Regionalization of landscape characteristics to map hydrologic variables. Journal of Hydroinformatics 1 May 2014; 16 (3): 633–648. doi: https://doi.org/10.2166/hydro.2013.051
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