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Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2019-292
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2019-292
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 08 Jul 2019

Research article | 08 Jul 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (HESS).

Global partitioning of runoff generation mechanisms using remote sensing data

Joseph T. D. Lucey1,2, John T. Reager2, and Sonya R. Lopez1 Joseph T. D. Lucey et al.
  • 1Department of Civil Engineering, California State University, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California, 90032, USA
  • 2NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California, 91109, USA

Abstract. A set of complex processes contribute to generate river runoff, which in the hydrological sciences are typically divided into two major categories: surface runoff, sometimes called Hortonian flow, and baseflow-driven runoff or Dunne flow. In this study, we examine the covariance of global satellite-based surface water inundation observations with two remotely sensed hydrological variables, precipitation, and terrestrial water storage, to better understand how apparent runoff generation responds to these two dominant forcing mechanisms. Terrestrial water storage observations come from NASA's GRACE mission, while precipitation comes from the GPCP combined product, and surface inundation levels from the NASA SWAMPS product. We evaluate the statistical relationship between surface water inundation, total water storage anomalies, and precipitation values under different time lag and quality control adjustments between the data products. We find that the global prediction of surface inundation improves when considering a quality control threshold of 50 % reliability for the SWAMPS data, and after applying time lags ranging from 1 to 5 months. Precipitation tends to be the dominant driver of surface water formation at zero time lag in most locations, while very wet tropical locations and high latitudes also contain a storage driven runoff component at variable time lags.

Joseph T. D. Lucey et al.
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Short summary
This work relates total water storage (TWS) and rainfall to surface water inundation (SWI) using NASA satellite data. This work determines whether TWS and/or rainfall control global SWI developments. Regression methods and cross-correlations were used to relate the measurements and correct for time differences among peaks. Results show TWS and rainfall control most global SWI developments. To our knowledge, this is the first global study on SWI controls and validates previous findings.
This work relates total water storage (TWS) and rainfall to surface water inundation (SWI) using...
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