Analysis of hydrological seasonality across northern catchments using monthly precipitation-runoff polygon metrics

Genevieve Aicha Ali, Doerthe Tetzlaff, Laura Marina Kruitbos, Christopher Soulsby, Sean Carey, Jeff McDonnell, Jim Buttle, Hjalmar Laudon, Jan Seibert, Kevin McGuire, Jamie Shanley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Seasonality is an important hydrological signature for catchment comparison. Here, the relevance of monthly precipitation-runoff polygons (defined as scatter points of 12 monthly average precipitation-runoff value pairs connected in the chronological monthly sequence) for characterizing seasonality patterns was investigated to describe the hydrological behaviour of 10 catchments spanning a climatic gradient across the northern temperate region. Specifically, the research objectives were to: (a) discuss the extent to which monthly precipitation-runoff polygons can be used to infer active hydrological processes in contrasting catchments; (b) test the ability of quantitative metrics describing the shape, orientation and surface area of monthly precipitation-runoff polygons to discriminate between different seasonality patterns; and (c) examine the value of precipitation-runoff polygons as a basis for catchment grouping and comparison. This study showed that some polygon metrics were as effective as monthly average runoff coefficients for illustrating differences between the 10 catchments. The use of precipitation-runoff polygons was especially helpful to look at the dynamics prevailing in specific months and better assess the coupling between precipitation and runoff and their relative degree of seasonality. This polygon methodology, linked with a range of quantitative metrics, could therefore provide a new simple tool for understanding and comparing seasonality among catchments.

Editor Z.W. Kundzewicz; Associate editor K. Heal

Citation Ali, G., Tetzlaff, D., Kruitbos, L., Soulsby, C., Carey, S., McDonnell, J., Buttle, J., Laudon, H., Seibert, J., McGuire, K., and Shanley, J., 2013. Analysis of hydrological seasonality across northern catchments using monthly precipitation-runoff polygon metrics. Hydrological Sciences Journal, 59 (1), 56-72.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)56-72
Number of pages17
JournalHydrological Sciences Journal
Issue number1
Early online date25 Nov 2013
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Canada
  • projet North-Watch
  • polygones
  • dynamique precipitation-debit
  • comparaison de bassins
  • saisonnalite
  • pas de temps mensuel
  • monthly time scale
  • polygons
  • precipitation-runoff dynamics
  • seasonality
  • North-Watch project Canada
  • catchment inter-comparison
  • flood frequency-analysis
  • water-balance
  • alpine catchment
  • soil-moisture
  • variability
  • dynamics
  • connectivity
  • landscape
  • generation
  • similarity

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