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A new modeling approach for simulating microtopography-dominated, discontinuous overland flow on infiltrating surfaces

Yang, Jun, Chu, Xuefeng
Advances in water resources 2015 v.78 pp. 80-93
drainage, drainage systems, infiltration rate, microrelief, models, overland flow, rain, runoff, soil, spatial distribution, unsaturated flow, water resources
Realistic modeling of discontinuous overland flow on irregular topographic surfaces has been proven to be a challenge. This study is aimed to develop a new modeling framework to simulate the discontinuous puddle-to-puddle (P2P) overland flow dynamics for infiltrating surfaces with various microtopographic characteristics. In the P2P model, puddles were integrated in a well-delineated, cascaded drainage system to facilitate explicit simulation of their dynamic behaviors and interactions. Overland flow and infiltration were respectively simulated by using the diffusion wave model and a modified Green–Ampt model for the DEM-derived flow drainage network that consisted of a series of puddle-based units (PBUs). The P2P model was tested by using a series of data from laboratory overland flow experiments for various microtopography, soil, and rainfall conditions. The modeling results indicated that the hierarchical relationships and microtopographic properties of puddles significantly affected their connectivity, filling–spilling dynamics, and the associated threshold flow. Surface microtopography and rainfall characteristics also exhibited strong influences on the spatio-temporal distributions of infiltration rates, runoff fluxes, and unsaturated flow. The model tests demonstrated its applicability in simulating microtopography-dominated overland flow on infiltrating surfaces.