Marine and Freshwater Research Marine and Freshwater Research Society
Advances in the aquatic sciences
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Non-stationarity of low flows and their relevance to river modelling during drought periods

David W. Rassam A , Daniel Pagendam B , Mat Gilfedder A D and Lu Zhang C
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A CSIRO Land & Water, PO Box 2583, Brisbane, Qld 4001, Australia.

B CSIRO Data61, PO Box 2583, Brisbane, Qld 4001, Australia.

C CSIRO Land & Water, GPO Box 1666, Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia

D Corresponding author. Email: Mat.Gilfedder@csiro.au

Marine and Freshwater Research - https://doi.org/10.1071/MF16399
Submitted: 2 December 2016  Accepted: 27 April 2017   Published online: 17 July 2017

Abstract

Changes in groundwater storage lead to a reduction in groundwater contribution to river flow and present as non-stationarity, especially during low-flow conditions. Conventional river models typically ignore this non-stationarity, and, hence, their predictions of declines in low flows during drought periods are likely to be compromised. The present study assesses non-stationarity and highlights its implications for river modelling. A quantile regression analysis showed non-stationarity of low flows in the Namoi catchment (Australia), with statistically significant downward trends in the 10th percentile of log-transformed baseflow (10-LTB). This highlighted the usefulness of the 10-LTB metric to identify non-stationarity and, hence, alert modellers to the importance of adopting models that explicitly account for groundwater processes when modelling such river systems.

Additional keywords: aquifer response, base flow, hydrology, surface-water–groundwater interaction.


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