EGU22-12588, updated on 28 Mar 2022
EGU General Assembly 2022
© Author(s) 2022. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

A complex network perspective on catchment water quality dynamics: characteristics, pattern, and drivers

Qingzhi Wen1, Jiping Jiang1, and Bellie Sivakumar2
Qingzhi Wen et al.
  • 1School of Environmental Science and Engineering, Southern University of Science and Technology, Shenzhen 518055, China
  • 2Department of Civil Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, Powai, Mumbai 400076, India

Understanding the connections in the dynamics of water quality at different locations in a catchment is important for catchment studies and watershed management. Complex network science provides effective ways to uncover connections and patterns in catchment water quality dynamics. This study  investigates the spatial connections in each of five water quality indexes (Chloride, Dissolved oxygen, pH, Total nitrogen, and Total organic carbon) and flow rate in the Chesapeake Bay basin, USA.High-resolution data (five minutes) from 120 water quality monitoring stations are analyzed. 1) The clustering coefficient (CC) and degree distribution methods are employed to examine the connections and identify the type of the water quality networks. The results indicate that the networks of water quality parameters are  scale-free. The power-law (γ) values of for the networks of Chl, DO, flow rate, pH, TN, TOC are 0.74, 0.67, 0.37, 2.0, 0.57 and 1.2, respectively. 2) Monte Carlo simulation of degree distributions and clustering coefficients (CC) shown that all water quality parameters present a decrease in the CC along with the turn down of the threshold of correlation coefficient (R), but the R threshold for DO and flow rate was 0.9. Other water quality parameters showed a sharp decline in the range of correlation coefficient (R) of 0.3-0.6, show a gentle decrease, and then decrease sharply, with an inverse s-curve. 3) All the WQ parameters show stable patterns of CC versus R, for different sizes of networks, arrived by randomly reducing the number of nodes (i.e. stations) of the networks. This seems to indicate that the pattern is an internal systemically feature of the networks, regardless of the node selected for analysis. The variations of CC values for the different stations in the networks  with different R values also help identify the “heat area” of the whole catchment, which  has some nodes with stable large CC. For the different water quality parameters, the heat area is basically the same, except for pH and TN for which the area is much smaller. The present findings on the characteristics, patterns, and drivers of water quality dynamics in catchments have important implications for water quality studies, especially in large networks of monitoring stations.

How to cite: Wen, Q., Jiang, J., and Sivakumar, B.: A complex network perspective on catchment water quality dynamics: characteristics, pattern, and drivers, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-12588,, 2022.