Journal cover Journal topic
Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 1, 101-113, 1997
© Author(s) 1997. This work is licensed under the
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 License.
31 Mar 1997
Using interactive recession curve analysis to specify a general catchment storage model
R. Lamb1 and K. Beven Centre for Research on Environmental Systems, Lancaster University, Lancaster, LA1 4YQ UK. Email:,
1Now at the Institute of Hydrology, Wallingford, Oxfordshire, OX10 8BB, UK.
Abstract. An analysis of hydrograph recessions can be used to identify the parameters of a conceptual catchment storage irnodel and, with the advent of large-scale digital data storage and automated logging systems, it has become desirable to automate recession curve analysis. Various studies have thus reported algorithms used to infer 'baseflow' storage models automatically from recession data. Such algorithms commonly operate by maximising the fit of measured recession data to some a priori function. Here, an alternative approach is taken in which the appropriate form for a catchment saturated zone store is investigated by combining observed recession data to form a Master Recession Curve (MRC). This is done within a software package that offers automated functions to help select recession periods suitable for inclusion within the MRC. These recession periods are combined automatically to form a "prototype" MRC, which can be modified interactively to overcome problems such as unrepresentative or sparse data. The master recession for a catchment is used to calculate an empirical catchment-averaged discharge-relative storage (QΔS) relationship. The method is considered to be general because the QΔS relationship may be of arbitrary form. Examples are given, showing the derivation for three catchments of different QΔS functions.

Citation: Lamb, R. and Beven, K.: Using interactive recession curve analysis to specify a general catchment storage model, Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 1, 101-113, doi:10.5194/hess-1-101-1997, 1997.
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