##### Abstract

• Basins in the Canadian Prairies have varying contributing fractions of their areas. • Caused by the variable storage of water in depressions. • The effects of the spatial and frequency distributions of depressions are quantified. • Will lead to the development of improved hydrological models for the region. Runoff in many locations within the Canadian Prairies is dominated by intermittent fill-and-spill between depressions. As a result, many basins have varying fractions of their areas connected to their outlets, due to changing depressional storage. The objective of this research is to determine the causes of the relationships between water storage and the connected fraction of depression-dominated Prairie basins. It is hypothesized that the shapes of the relationship curves are influenced by both the spatial and frequency distributions of depressional storage. Three sets of numerical experiments are presented to test the hypothesis. The first set of experiments demonstrates that where the number of depressions is small, their size and spatial distributions are important in controlling the relationship between the volume of depressional storage and the connected fraction of a basin. As the number of depressions is increased, the areal fractions of the largest depressions decrease, which reduces the importance of the spatial distribution of depressions. The second set of experiments demonstrates that the curve enveloping the connected fraction of a basin can be derived from the frequency distribution of depression areas, and scaling relationships between the area, volume and catchment area of the depressions, when the area of the largest depression is no greater than approximately 5% of the total. The third set of experiments demonstrates that the presence of a single large depression can strongly influence the relationship between the depressional storage and the connected fraction of a basin, depending on the relative size of the large depression, and its location within the basin. A single depression containing 30% of the total depressional area located near the outlet was shown to cause a basin to be nearly endorheic. A similar depression near the top of a basin was demonstrated not to fill and was therefore unable to contribute flows. The implications of the findings for developing hydrological models of large Prairie drainage basins are discussed.- Cite:
- Kevin Shook, Simon Michael Papalexiou, and John W. Pomeroy. 2021. Quantifying the effects of Prairie depressional storage complexes on drainage basin connectivity.
*Journal of Hydrology, Volume 593*, 593:125846.