Stream Distance-Based Geographically Weighted Regression for Exploring Watershed Characteristics and Water Quality Relationships

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Annals of the American Association of Geographers

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We developed a novel spatial stream network geographically weighted regression ( SSN-GWR ) by incorporating stream-distance metrics into GWR. The model was tested for predicting seasonal total nitrogen (TN ) and total suspended solids ( TSS ) concentrations in relation to watershed characteristics for 108 sites in the Han River Basin, South Korea. The SSN-GWR model was run with the average seasonal water quality parameters from 2012 through 2016 and was validated with the data from 2017 through 2021. The model fit among ordinary least square regression, standard GWR ( STD-GWR ), and stream distance weighted SSN-GWR were compared based on their ability to explain the variation of seasonal water quality parameters. We also compared residual spatial autocorrelations as well as various error parameters from these models. Compared to the STD-GWR model, the SSN-GWR model generally provided better model fit, reduced residual spatial autocorrelation, and lessened overall modeling errors. Results show that the spatial patterns of model fit, as well as various coefficients from the upstream distance weighted regressions, capture local patterns as a product of upstream–downstream relations. We demonstrate that a successful model could be developed by integrating stream distance into the GWR, which not only improves model fit but also reveals realistic hydrological processes that relate watershed characteristics to water quality along with the stream network. The local variations in model fit derived from this work can be used to devise fine-scale interventions for water quality improvements in a spatially heterogeneous complex river basin.


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