Diurnal fluctuations in shallow groundwater levels and streamflow rates and their interpretation - A review

Zoltán Gribovszki, József Szilágyi, Péter Kalicz

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

122 Citations (Scopus)


Diurnal fluctuations of hydrological variables (e.g., shallow groundwater level or streamflow rate) are comparatively rarely investigated in the hydrologic literature although these short-term fluctuations may incorporate useful information for the characterization of hydro-ecological systems. The fluctuations can be induced by several factors like (a) alternating processes of freezing and thawing; (b) early afternoon rainfall events in the tropics; (c) changes in streambed hydraulic conductivity triggered by temperature variations, and; (d) diurnal cycle of water uptake by the vegetation. In temperate climates, one of the most important diurnal fluctuation-inducing factors is the water consumption of vegetation, therefore a detailed overview is provided on the history of such research. Beside a systematic categorization of the relevant historical studies, models that calculate groundwater evapotranspiration from diurnal fluctuations of groundwater level and/or streamflow rate have been reviewed. Compared to traditional evapotranspiration estimation methods these approaches may excel in that they generally employ a small number of parameters and/or variables to measure, are typically simple to use, and yet can yield results even on a short time-scale (i.e., hours). While, e.g., temperature-based methods of evapotranspiration are simple too, they cannot be applied or become inaccurate over shorter time periods. Similarly, traditional approaches (such as eddy-correlation or Bowen-ratio based) are accurate for shorter time steps but they require a number of measurable atmospheric input variables.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)371-383
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Hydrology
Issue number1-4
Publication statusPublished - May 7 2010


  • Baseflow
  • Diurnal signal
  • Evapotranspiration
  • Groundwater
  • Riparian zone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology

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