The river discharge monitoring networks are generally sparser and more recent than those of other hydrological variables, like rainfall or temperature. Furthermore, most of the streamflow series show long periods without records and several gaps, thereby limiting their use. Hydrological modeling provides a tool to overcome the poor quality of the streamflow data. However, its applicability to fill in the gaps or increase the time spans of the existing series and also to estimate streamflows at ungauged catchments depends on the simplicity and on the few data requirements of the approach selected, which makes the water balance models suitable choices. In the previous scope, the role of evapotranspiration in a water balance model was investigated for Portugal based on two approaches: a more complex with more data requirements, the Penman-Monteith method, and a very simple one only based on temperature data, the Thornthwaite method. The results showed that the monthly streamflows estimated based on any of the previous evapotranspiration models are almost the same. In fact, when the differences between the two models are higher, the surface runoff process is no longer controlled by the evapotranspiration but instead by the absence of rainfall and by the dryness of the soil.
Part of the book: Current Practice in Fluvial Geomorphology