Water Resources Research

A stochastic nonparametric technique for space-time disaggregation of streamflows



[1] Stochastic disaggregation models are used to simulate streamflows at multiple sites preserving their temporal and spatial dependencies. Traditional approaches to this problem involve transforming the streamflow data of each month and at every location to a Gaussian structure and subsequently fitting a linear model in the transformed space. The simulations are then back transformed to the original space. The main drawbacks of this approach are (1) transforming marginals to Gaussian need not lead to the correct multivariate distribution particularly if the dependence across variables is nonlinear, and (2) the number of parameters to be estimated for a traditional disaggregation model grows rapidly with an increase in space or time components. We present a K-nearest-neighbor approach to resample monthly flows conditioned on an annual value in a temporal disaggregation or multiple upstream locations conditioned on a downstream location for a spatial disaggregation. The method is parsimonious, as the only parameter to estimate is K (the number of nearest neighbors to be used in resampling). Simulating space-time flow scenarios conditioned upon large-scale climate information (e.g., El Niño–Southern Oscillation, etc.) can be easily achieved. We demonstrate the utility of this methodology by applying it for space-time disaggregation of streamflows in the Upper Colorado River basin. The method appropriately captures the distributional and spatial dependency properties at all the locations.