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The soil water characteristic as new class of closed-form parametric expressions for the flow duration curve


The flow duration curve is a signature catchment characteristic that depicts graphically the relationship between the exceedance probability of streamflow and its magnitude. This curve is relatively easy to create and interpret, and is used widely for hydrologic analysis, water quality management, and the design of hydroelectric power plants (among others). Several mathematical expressions have been proposed to mimic the FDC. Yet, these efforts have not been particularly successful, in large part because available functions are not flexible enough to portray accurately the functional shape of the FDC for a large range of catchments and contrasting hydrologic behaviors. Here, we extend the work of Vrugt and Sadegh (2013) and introduce several commonly used models of the soil water characteristic as new class of closed-form parametric expressions for the flow duration curve. These soil water retention functions are relatively simple to use, contain between two to three parameters, and mimic closely the empirical FDCs of 430 catchments of the MOPEX data set. We then relate the calibrated parameter values of these models to physical and climatological characteristics of the watershed using multivariate linear regression analysis, and evaluate the regionalization potential of our proposed models against those of the literature. If quality of fit is of main importance then the 3-parameter van Genuchten model is preferred, whereas the 2-parameter lognormal, 3-parameter GEV and generalized Pareto models show greater promise for regionalization.

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