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A Simple Empirical Stream Flow Prediction Model for Ungauged Watersheds

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  2007 ASAE Annual Meeting  072003.(doi:10.13031/2013.22924)
Authors:   Jose Luis Chavez, Prasanna H Gowda, Ricardo Griffin, Samuel Rivera, Christopher M.U Neale
Keywords:   Runoff; Geographic information systems; World water and climate atlas; Hydrology

Knowledge of streamflow is important for estimating groundwater recharge rates, forecasting floods, and designing hydropower structures and irrigation systems. However, many watersheds throughout the developing world remain ungauged. This fact demands a simple hydrological model that requires minimal but globally available data for estimating monthly streamflow. In this study, data from five watersheds in Honduras were used to develop an empirical monthly streamflow model using Moisture Adequacy Index (MAI), Leaf Area Index (LAI), and watershed characteristics such as soil infiltration rates, terrain slopes, and vegetation cover. The proposed model had an R2 of 0.74 and was significant at the 95% confidence level. The model was verified with data from four other Honduran and one Bolivian watersheds. The streamflow model explained about 90% of the variability in the measured flow indicating that the model may be transferable to other ungauged watersheds.

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