Objective, observations-based, automatic estimation of the catchment response timescale

Efrat Morin*, Konstantine P. Georgakakos, Uri Shamir, Rami Garti, Yehouda Enzel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


A new characteristic timescale of a catchment is presented, the response timescale (RTS). It is a range of averaging time intervals which, when applied to catchment rainfall, yield smoothed time series that best approximate that of the resultant runoff. In determining the RTS, nothing is assumed about the nature of the rainfall-runoff transformation. In addition, this new measure is shown to be robust against measurement errors. An objective, automatic, observations-based algorithm is described that introduces the concept of peaks density for the estimation of RTS. Estimation is exemplified for single and multiple rainfall-runoff events through application to small catchments in Panama and Israel. In all cases, relatively stable values of response timescale are obtained. It is concluded that at least for the case studies, the response timescale is an intrinsic characteristic of the catchment and it is generally expected to be different from the catchment lag time and time of concentration.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)30-1-30-16
JournalWater Resources Research
Issue number10
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2002


  • Catchment hydrology
  • Characteristic timescale
  • Hydrological response
  • Meteorological radar
  • Rainfall-runoff relationships
  • Small basins


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