Estimation of the Water Balance of a Small Tropical Andean Catchment

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Paola Jackeline Duque-Sarango
Ronald Cajamarca-Rivadeneira
Beverley C. Wemple
Manuel E. Delgado-Fernández


Catchment water balance, evapotranspiration, Thornthwaite, northern Andes, tropical hydrology


The present study seeks to estimate the water balance that results as a product of the variation of precipitation and temperature over the Chaquilcay microcatchment, a natural system that intercepts with the surface of the Aguarongo Protected Forest in Gualaceo, Ecuador. Four meteorological stations of the National Institute of Meteorology and Hydrology (INAMHI) were studied, which are divided into climatological and pluviometric, with time series of over 30 years, (1982-2015 period). In order to quantify the contributions and losses of water, statistical analyzes of the time series and surveys of in situ information were carried out. The methods used are linear regression, streak test and double mass curve. To fill and validate the series of precipitation and temperature, reference temperatures of the isothermal raster of Ecuador were included in the pluviometric stations. Additionally, a digital elevation model (MDE) was used to predict the amount of sunshine, and the Thornthwaite evapotranspiration method (1948) was applied from the obtained data. The results show acceptance of the meteorological records, while in the soil analysis we obtained the following data: Humidity, 62.38%; organic matter, 21.29%; field capacity, 18.71 mm and a flow of 1.89 m³ / s during the month of May. Finally, the water balance indicates 843.7 mm of annual precipitation, a storage difference of 18.71 mm representing 2.22% of total precipitation, an surplus of 144.5 mm, and actual evapotranspiration of 680.5 mm, with 17.13% and 80.65%, respectively.
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