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Hydrological response to climate variability at different time scales: A study in the Ebro basin

AuthorsLópez-Moreno, Juan I. CSIC ORCID ; Vicente Serrano, Sergio M. CSIC ORCID ; Zabalza-Martínez, Javier ; Beguería, Santiago CSIC ORCID ; Lorenzo-Lacruz, Jorge CSIC ORCID; Azorín-Molina, César CSIC ORCID; Morán-Tejeda, Enrique CSIC ORCID CVN
KeywordsStandardized precipitation evapotranspiration index (SPEI)
Ebro basin
Issue DateJan-2013
CitationLópez-Moreno JI, Vicente-Serrano SM, Zabalza J, Beguería S, Lorenzo-Lacruz J, Azorín-Molina C, Morán-Tejeda E. Hydrological response to climate variability at different time scales: A study in the Ebro basin. Journal of Hydrology 477 (16): 175-188 (2013)
AbstractIn this study we analyzed the response of monthly runoff to precedent climatic conditions at temporal scales of 1–48 months in 88 catchments of the Ebro basin (northeast Spain). The standardized precipitation evapotranspiration index (SPEI) was used to summarize the climatic conditions at different time scales, and was correlated with the standardized streamflow index (SSI) calculated at the mouth of each catchment. The Ebro basin encompasses a gradient from Atlantic to Mediterranean climates, and has remarkable complexity in topography, geology and land cover. The basin is highly regulated by dams, which were built to produce hydropower and supply water for agriculture. These characteristics explain why sub-basins of the Ebro River basin respond in differing ways to precedent climatic conditions. Three main sub-basin groups were distinguished on the basis of the correlation of their streamflow responses to different time scales of the SPEI: (1) sub-basins correlated with short SPEI time scales (2–4 months), which generally corresponded to unregulated headwater areas; (2) sub-basins correlated with long SPEI time scales (10–20 months), where groundwater reserves play a major hydrological role; and (3) sub-basins correlated with medium SPEI time scales (6–10 months). The latter occur in the lower sectors of the Ebro basin and its tributaries, which receive river flows from the other two sub-basins, and where dam regulation has a significant influence on the hydrological characteristics. In addition to the three main sub-basin groups, other streamflow responses associated with seasonal factors were identified, particularly those related to snowpack and the various management strategies applied to reservoirs.
Description39 Pags., 10 Figs. The definitive version is available at: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/00221694
Publisher version (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jhydrol.2012.11.028
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