Skip to page content
USDA Forest Service

Research & Development Treesearch

Treesearch Home
About Treesearch
Contact Us
Research & Development
Forest Products Lab
International Institute of Tropical Forestry
Pacific Northwest
Pacific Southwest
Rocky Mountain
Southern Research Station
Help - We Participate  Government Made Easy

Global Forest Information Service

US Forest Service
P.O. Box 96090
Washington, D.C.

(202) 205-8333

You are here: Home / Search / Publication Information
Bookmark and Share

Publication Information

View PDF (271 KB)

Title: Effects of watershed topography, soils, land use and climate on baseflow hydrology in humid regions: a review

Author: Price, Katie;

Date: 2011

Source: Progress in Physcial Geography 35(4):465-492

Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)

Description: Baseflow is the portion of streamflow that is sustained between precipitation events, fed to stream channels by delayed (usually subsurface) pathways. Understanding baseflow processes is critical to issues of water quality, supply, and habitat. This review synthesizes the body of global literature investigating relationships between baseflow and watershed characteristics of geomorphology, soil, and land use, as well as the potential effects of climate change, with an emphasis on humid, tropical and temperate (non-snowpack-dominated) regions. Such factors are key controls on baseflow through their influence on infiltration, rates of water removal from the catchment, and subsurface storage properties. The literature shows that there is much that remains to be resolved in gaining a solid understanding of the influence of watershed characteristics on baseflow. While it is clear that watershed geomorphology influences baseflow, there is no consensus on which geomorphic parameters are most closely linked to subsurface storage and baseflow. Many studies associate higher watershed forest cover with lower baseflows, attributed to high evapotranspiration rates of forests, while other studies indicate increased baseflow with higher watershed forest cover due to higher infiltration and recharge of subsurface storage. The demonstrated effects of agriculture and urbanization are also inconsistent, due to varied additions of imported water and extremely variable background conditions. This review underscores the need for more research that addresses multiple aspects of the watershed system in explaining baseflows, and for methodological consistency to allow for more fruitful comparisons across case studies. These needs are of immediate demand, given scientific and management emphasis on environmental flows required for maintenance of key ecosystem services.

Keywords: baseflow, catchment, climate change, ecosystem services, environmental flows, watershed

Publication Notes:

  • We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
  • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.



Price, Katie. 2011. Effects of watershed topography, soils, land use and climate on baseflow hydrology in humid regions: a review. Progress in Physcial Geography 35(4):465-492.


 [ Get Acrobat ]  Get the latest version of the Adobe Acrobat reader or Acrobat Reader for Windows with Search and Accessibility

USDA logo which links to the department's national site. Forest Service logo which links to the agency's national site.