Journal cover Journal topic
Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 18, 463-477, 2014
© Author(s) 2014. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Opinion article
06 Feb 2014
Large-sample hydrology: a need to balance depth with breadth
H. V. Gupta1, C. Perrin2, G. Blöschl3, A. Montanari4, R. Kumar5, M. Clark6, and V. Andréassian2 1Department of Hydrology and Water Resources, The University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, USA
2Irstea, Hydrosystems and bioprocesses Research Unit (HBAN), Antony, France
3Institute of Hydraulic Engineering and Water Resources Management, Vienna University of Technology, Vienna, Austria
4Department DICAM, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy
5UFZ – Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, Leipzig, Germany
6Hydrometeorological Applications Program, Research Applications Laboratory, Boulder, CO, USA
Abstract. A holy grail of hydrology is to understand catchment processes well enough that models can provide detailed simulations across a variety of hydrologic settings at multiple spatiotemporal scales, and under changing environmental conditions. Clearly, this cannot be achieved only through intensive place-based investigation at a small number of heavily instrumented catchments, or by empirical methods that do not fully exploit our understanding of hydrology. In this opinion paper, we discuss the need to actively promote and pursue the use of a "large catchment sample" approach to modeling the rainfall–runoff process, thereby balancing depth with breadth. We examine the history of such investigations, discuss the benefits (improved process understanding resulting in robustness of prediction at ungauged locations and under change), examine some practical challenges to implementation and, finally, provide perspectives on issues that need to be taken into account as we move forward. Ultimately, our objective is to provoke further discussion and participation, and to promote a potentially important theme for the upcoming Scientific Decade of the International Association of Hydrological Sciences entitled Panta Rhei.

Citation: Gupta, H. V., Perrin, C., Blöschl, G., Montanari, A., Kumar, R., Clark, M., and Andréassian, V.: Large-sample hydrology: a need to balance depth with breadth, Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 18, 463-477,, 2014.
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