Seasonality of runoff and precipitation regimes along transects in Peru and Austria

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Abstract

The aim of this study is to understand the seasonalities of runoff and precipitation and their controls along two transects in Peru and one transect in Austria. The analysis is based on daily precipitation data at 111 and 61 stations in Peru and Austria, respectively, and daily discharge data at 51 and 110 stations. The maximum Pardé coefficient is used to quantify the strength of the seasonalities of monthly precipitation and runoff. Circular statistics are used to quantify the seasonalities of annual maximum daily precipitation and annual maximum daily runoff. The results suggest that much larger spatial variation in seasonality in Peru is because of the large diversity in climate and topography. In the dry Peruvian lowlands of the North, the strength of the monthly runoff seasonality is smaller than that of precipitation due to a relatively short rainy period from January to March, catchment storage and the effect of upstream runoff contributions that are more uniform within the year. In the Peruvian highlands in the South, the strength of the monthly runoff seasonality is greater than that of precipitation, or similar, due to relatively little annual precipitation and rather uniform evaporation within the year. In the Austrian transect, the strength of the runoff seasonality is greater than that of precipitation due to the influence of snowmelt in April to June. The strength of monthly regime of precipitation and runoff controls the concentration of floods and extreme precipitation in Peruvian transects. The regions with strong monthly seasonality of runoff have also extreme events concentrated along the same time of the year and the occurrence of floods is mainly controlled by the seasonality of precipitation. In Austria, the monthly runoff maxima and floods occur in the same season in the Alps. In the lowlands, the flood seasonality is controlled mainly by summer extreme precipitation and its interplay with larger soil moisture. The analyses of precipitation and runoff data along topographic gradients in Peru and Austria showed that, overall, in Peru the spatial variation in seasonality is much larger than in Austria. This is because of the larger diversity in climate and topography.

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