Storage-discharge relationships at different catchment scales based on local high-precision gravimetry

Benjamin Creutzfeldt, Peter A. Troch, Andreas Güntner, Ty P.A. Ferré, Thomas Graeff, Bruno Merz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


In hydrology, the storage-discharge relationship is a fundamental catchment property. Understanding what controls this relationship is at the core of catchment science. To date, there are no direct methods to measure water storage at catchment scales (101-103km2). In this study, we use direct measurements of terrestrial water storage dynamics by means of superconducting gravimetry in a small headwater catchment of the Regen River, Germany, to derive empirical storage-discharge relationships in nested catchments of increasing scale. Our results show that the local storage measurements are strongly related to streamflow dynamics at larger scales (> 100km2; correlation coefficient=0.78-0.81), but at small scale, no such relationship exists (~ 1km2; correlation coefficients=-0.11). The geologic setting in the region can explain both the disconnection between local water storage and headwater runoff, and the connectivity between headwater storage and streams draining larger catchment areas. More research is required to understand what controls the form of the observed storage-discharge relationships at the catchment scale. This study demonstrates that high-precision gravimetry can provide new insights into the complex relationship between state and response of hydrological systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1465-1475
Number of pages11
JournalHydrological Processes
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 30 2014


  • High-precision gravimeter
  • Nested catchments
  • Storage-discharge relationship
  • Water storage

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology


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