The influence of a prolonged meteorological drought on catchment water storage capacity: a hydrological-model perspective
Hydrology and Earth System Sciences
Abstract. Understanding the propagation of prolonged meteorological drought helps solve the problem of intensified water scarcity around the world. Most of the existing literature studied the propagation of drought from one type to another (e.g., from meteorological to hydrological drought) with statistical approaches; there remains difficulty in revealing the causality between meteorological drought and potential changes in the catchment water storage capacity (CWSC). This study aims to
... tudy aims to identify the response of the CWSC to the meteorological drought by examining the changes of hydrological-model parameters after drought events. Firstly, the temporal variation of a model parameter that denotes that the CWSC is estimated to reflect the potential changes in the real CWSC. Next, the change points of the CWSC parameter were determined based on the Bayesian change point analysis. Finally, the possible association and linkage between the shift in the CWSC and the time lag of the catchment (i.e., time lag between the onset of the drought and the change point) with multiple catchment properties and climate characteristics were identified. A total of 83 catchments from southeastern Australia were selected as the study areas. Results indicated that (1) significant shifts in the CWSC can be observed in 62.7 % of the catchments, which can be divided into two subgroups with the opposite response, i.e., 48.2 % of catchments had lower runoff generation rates, while 14.5 % of catchments had higher runoff generation rate; (2) the increase in the CWSC during a chronic drought can be observed in smaller catchments with lower elevation, slope and forest coverage of evergreen broadleaf forest, while the decrease in the CWSC can be observed in larger catchments with higher elevation and larger coverage of evergreen broadleaf forest; (3) catchments with a lower proportion of evergreen broadleaf forest usually have a longer time lag and are more resilient. This study improves our understanding of possible changes in the CWSC induced by a prolonged meteorological drought, which will help improve our ability to simulate the hydrological system under climate change.