Journal of Mountain Science

, Volume 12, Issue 3, pp 614–625 | Cite as

Baseflow characteristics in alpine rivers — a multi-catchment analysis in Northwest China

  • Rong Gan
  • Lin Sun
  • Yi LuoEmail author


As a component of streamflow, baseflow is critical for regulating seasonal distribution of river flows and stabilizing water supplies. Water resources in the arid area of Northwest China are mainly from multiple catchments in the alpine that could be influenced by varieties of climatic, land cover, soil and geological factors. While numerous studies have been done on streamflow, systematic analysis of baseflow in the alpine river systems is scare. Based on historical daily streamflow data and the automated digital filter method of baseflow separation, this study investigated characteristics of hydrographs of overland flow, streamflow and baseflow of river systems fed by rainfall, snowmelt, glacier melt or mixtures of these. This study also calculated the recession constants and baseflow indices of 65 river systems. While the recession constant was 0.0034–0.0728 with a mean of 0.018, the baseflow index was 0.27–0.79 with a mean of 0.57. Further, Spearman’s correlation analysis showed that the baseflow index was significantly correlated with catchment climatic factors (e.g., precipitation and temperature), topographic factors (e.g., elevation and slope) and aquifer properties represented by the recession constant. Multiple regression analysis indicated that the factors explained 65% of the variability of baseflow index in the study area.


Baseflow index Recession constant Snowmelt Glacier melt Streamflow 


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Copyright information

© Science Press, Institute of Mountain Hazards and Environment, CAS and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Ecosystem Network Observation and Modeling, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources ResearchChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  2. 2.University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina

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