Incorporating the spatio-temporal distribution of rainfall and basin geomorphology into nonlinear analyses of streamflow dynamics

Boyko Dodov, Efi Foufoula-Georgiou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Many recent studies have been devoted to the investigation of the nonlinear dynamics of rainfall or streamflow series based on methods of dynamical systems theory. Although finding evidence for the existence of a low-dimensional deterministic component in rainfall or streamflow is of much interest, not much attention has been given to the nonlinear dependencies of the two and especially on how the spatio-temporal distribution of rainfall affects the nonlinear dynamics of streamflow at flood time scales. In this paper, a methodology is presented which simultaneously considers streamflow series, spatio-temporal structure of precipitation and catchment geomorphology into a nonlinear analysis of streamflow dynamics. The proposed framework is based on "hydrologically-relevant" rainfall-runoff phase-space reconstruction acknowledging the fact that rainfall-runoff is a stochastic spatially extended system rather than a deterministic multivariate one. The methodology is applied to two basins in Central North America using 6-hour streamflow data and radar images for a period of 5 years. The proposed methodology is used to: (a) quantify the nonlinear dependencies between streamflow dynamics and the spatio-temporal dynamics of precipitation; (b) study how streamflow predictability is affected by the trade-offs between the level of detail necessary to explain the spatial variability of rainfall and the reduction of complexity due to the smoothing effect of the basin; and (c) explore the possibility of incorporating process-specific information (in terms of catchment geomorphology and an a priori chosen uncertainty model) into nonlinear prediction. Preliminary results are encouraging and indicate the potential of using the proposed methodology to understand via nonlinear analysis of observations (i.e., not based on a particular rainfall-runoff model) streamflow predictability and limits to prediction as a function of the complexity of spatio-temporal forcing relative to basin geomorphology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)711-728
Number of pages18
JournalAdvances in Water Resources
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2005

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Incorporating the spatio-temporal distribution of rainfall and basin geomorphology into nonlinear analyses of streamflow dynamics'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this