Streamflow sensitivity to water storage changes across Europe

Wouter R Berghuijs*, Andreas J Hartmann, Ross Woods

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

40 Citations (Scopus)
446 Downloads (Pure)


Terrestrial water storage is the primary source of river flow. We introduce storage sensitivity of streamflow (ϵS), which for a given flow rate indicates the relative change in streamflow per change in catchment water storage. ϵS can be directly derived from streamflow observations. Analysis of 725 catchments in Europe reveals that ϵS is high in e.g. parts of Spain, England, Germany and Denmark, whereas flow regimes in parts of the Alps are more resilient (that is, less sensitive) to storage changes. A regional comparison of ϵS with observations indicates that ϵS is significantly correlated with variability of low (R2 = 0.41), median (R2 = 0.27), and high flow conditions (R2 = 0.35). Streamflow sensitivity provides new guidance for a changing hydrosphere where groundwater abstraction and climatic changes are altering water storage and flow regimes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1980-1987
Number of pages8
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number5
Early online date2 Mar 2016
Publication statusPublished - 16 Mar 2016


  • Aquifer
  • Catchment
  • Flow regime
  • Groundwater
  • Hydrology
  • Resilience


Dive into the research topics of 'Streamflow sensitivity to water storage changes across Europe'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this