Heterogeneity of Hydrologic Response in Urban Watersheds

Katherine L. Meierdiercks, James A. Smith, Mary Lynn Baeck, Andrew J. Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


The changing patterns of streamflow associated with urbanization are examined through analyses of discharge and rainfall records for the study watersheds of the Baltimore Ecosystem Study (BES). Analyses utilize a decade (1999-2008) of observations from a dense U.S. Geological Survey stream gaging network and Hydro-NEXRAD radar rainfall fields. The principal study watershed of the BES is Gwynns Falls (171 km2). Focus is given to two Gwynns Falls basins with contrasting patterns and histories of development, Dead Run and Upper Gwynns Falls. The sharp contrasts in streamflow properties between the basins reflect the differences in urban development prior to implementation of stormwater management regulations (much of Dead Run) and development for which stormwater management is an integral part of the hydrologic system (Upper Gwynns Falls). The mean annual runoff in Dead Run (558 mm) is 35% larger than that of Upper Gwynns Falls; larger contrasts in runoff properties typify the "warm season" and are linked to storm event hydrologic response. Spatial heterogeneities in storm event response are reflected in seasonal and diurnal properties of streamflow. Analyses of storm event response are presented for June 2006, during which monthly rainfall over the BES region ranged from less than 150 to more than 500 mm. Baisman Run, the BES forest reference watershed, and Moores Run, a highly urbanized watershed in Baltimore City, provide "end-member" representations of urban impacts on streamflow.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1221-1237
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of the American Water Resources Association
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Earth-Surface Processes


  • Flooding
  • Geographic information system
  • Hydrologic cycle
  • Precipitation
  • Stormwater management
  • Streamflow
  • Urbanization


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