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Hydroclimatology of the continental United States A. Sankarasubramanian1

Summary: Hydroclimatology of the continental United States
A. Sankarasubramanian1
and Richard M. Vogel2
Received 22 July 2002; revised 2 October 2002; accepted 26 December 2002; published 3 April 2003.
[1] The overall water balance and the sensitivity of
watershed runoff to changes in climate are investigated
using national databases of climate and streamflow for 1,337
watersheds in the U.S. We document that 1% changes in
precipitation result in 1.52.5% changes in watershed runoff,
depending upon the degree of buffering by storage processes
and other factors. Unlike previous research, our approach to
estimating climate sensitivity of streamflow is nonparametric
and does not depend on a hydrologic model. The upper bound
for precipitation elasticity of streamflow is shown to be the
inverse of the runoff ratio. For over a century, investigators
[Pike, 1964; Budyko, 1974; Ol'dekop, 1911; and Schreiber,
1904] have suggested that variations in watershed aridity
alone are sufficient to predict spatial variations in long-term
watershed runoff. We document that variations in soil
moisture holding capacity are just as important as variations


Source: Arumugam, Sankar - Department of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering, North Carolina State University
Vogel, Richard M. - Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Tufts University


Collections: Engineering; Environmental Sciences and Ecology; Geosciences