Multi-time-scale hydroclimate dynamics of a regional watershed and links to large-scale atmospheric circulation: Application to the Seine river catchment, France

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • N. Massei
  • B. Dieppois
  • D. A. Lavers
  • M. Fossa
  • B. Laignel
  • M. Debret

Colleges, School and Institutes

External organisations

  • University of Cape Town
  • European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts


In the present context of global changes, considerable efforts have been deployed by the hydrological scientific community to improve our understanding of the impacts of climate fluctuations on water resources. Both observational and modeling studies have been extensively employed to characterize hydrological changes and trends, assess the impact of climate variability or provide future scenarios of water resources. In the aim of a better understanding of hydrological changes, it is of crucial importance to determine how and to what extent trends and long-term oscillations detectable in hydrological variables are linked to global climate oscillations.

In this work, we develop an approach associating correlation between large and local scales, empirical statistical downscaling and wavelet multiresolution decomposition of monthly precipitation and streamflow over the Seine river watershed, and the North Atlantic sea level pressure (SLP) in order to gain additional insights on the atmospheric patterns associated with the regional hydrology. We hypothesized that: (i) atmospheric patterns may change according to the different temporal wavelengths defining the variability of the signals; and (ii) definition of those hydrological/circulation relationships for each temporal wavelength may improve the determination of large-scale predictors of local variations.

The results showed that the links between large and local scales were not necessarily constant according to time-scale (i.e. for the different frequencies characterizing the signals), resulting in changing spatial patterns across scales. This was then taken into account by developing an empirical statistical downscaling (ESD) modeling approach, which integrated discrete wavelet multiresolution analysis for reconstructing monthly regional hydrometeorological processes (predictand: precipitation and streamflow on the Seine river catchment) based on a large-scale predictor (SLP over the Euro-Atlantic sector). This approach basically consisted in three steps: 1 – decomposing large-scale climate and hydrological signals (SLP field, precipitation or streamflow) using discrete wavelet multiresolution analysis, 2 – generating a statistical downscaling model per time-scale, 3 – summing up all scale-dependent models in order to obtain a final reconstruction of the predictand. The results obtained revealed a significant improvement of the reconstructions for both precipitation and streamflow when using the multiresolution ESD model instead of basic ESD. In particular, the multiresolution ESD model handled very well the significant changes in variance through time observed in either precipitation or streamflow. For instance, the post-1980 period, which had been characterized by particularly high amplitudes in interannual-to-interdecadal variability associated with alternating flood and extremely low-flow/drought periods (e.g., winter/spring 2001, summer 2003), could not be reconstructed without integrating wavelet multiresolution analysis into the model. In accordance with previous studies, the wavelet components detected in SLP, precipitation and streamflow on interannual to interdecadal time-scales could be interpreted in terms of influence of the Gulf-Stream oceanic front on atmospheric circulation.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)262-275
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Hydrology
Early online date12 Jan 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2017


  • Hydrological variability , Atmospheric circulation , Multiresolution analysis , Empirical statistical downscaling

ASJC Scopus subject areas