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Keywords:

  • base flow;
  • ungauged;
  • global;
  • recession;
  • neural network;
  • ensemble

Characterizing baseflow, the slowly varying portion of streamflow, is important for water resources management, hydropower generation, tracking contaminant transport, and other applications. Most previous studies of baseflow have analyzed small groups of catchments with similar characteristics. Now, to develop globally applicable models of baseflow characteristics, Beck et al. studied observations from 3394 catchments around the world with a variety of climatic, hydrological, and physiographic characteristics. Their novel approach investigates the relationship between catchment characteristics and baseflow characteristics, showing how baseflow is related to annual potential evaporation, mean snow water equivalent depth, abundance of surface water bodies, and other landscape characteristics. Their global maps of baseflow characteristics—which could be useful for benchmarking and calibrating hydrological models and for a variety of other hydrological applications—are freely available at http://www.hydrology-amsterdam.nl.