Specific conductivity (SC) is commonly used to estimate the proportion of baseflow (i.e., waters from within catchments such as groundwater, interflow, or bank return flows) contributing to rivers. Reach-scale SC comparisons are also useful for identifying where multiple water stores contribute to baseflow. Daily SC values of adjacent gauges in Australian (the Barwon, Glenelg, and Campaspe Rivers) and North American (the Upper Colorado River) catchments are commonly not well correlated (R2 = 0.32 to 0.82). Smoothed inter-gauge SC values averaged over 7 to 45 days are better correlated and define a series of hysteresis loops. The variable SC patterns between adjacent gauges probably reflect varying proportions of groundwater, bank return waters, interflow, and soil water contributing to baseflow. In some rivers using SC values to compare baseflow along river reaches on sub-annual timescales may be not be feasible.
- Bank return flows
- Specific conductivity