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A Fast Semi Distributed Rainfall Runoff Model for Engineering Applications in Arid and Semi-Arid Regions

Foda, Remah F., Awadallah, Ayman G., Gad, Mohamed A.
Water resources management 2017 v.31 no.15 pp. 4941-4955
arid zones, digital elevation models, engineering, geographic information systems, hydrograph, hydrologic models, rain, runoff, semiarid zones, streams, watersheds, Arizona
A new GIS based rainfall runoff model is developed for engineering applications, achieving a highly automated watershed analysis process starting from watershed delineation and up to the runoff hydrograph calculation. The model can be classified as a semi-distributed time area model that adopts an improved grid based approach for calculation of watershed response. The model deals with each grid cell in the digital elevation model as an independent hydrologic unit. Travel time through each grid cell is estimated using Manning’s formula and a stream power formula that relates the hydraulic radius at the cell to the characteristics of its upstream watershed area and excess rainfall depth. The watershed response at its outlet is estimated by routing the response of each grid cell using a flow path response function that is defined for that cell. The routed responses of all watershed cells are then convoluted to produce the outflow hydrograph. Model advantages include accuracy improvements due to the incorporation of grid-based routing calculations (both translation and attenuation), fully automated model structure, and fast ability to model many watersheds simultaneously. The combination of these advantages constitutes the novelty of the model that makes it very suitable for engineering design as well as for real-time applications. The model was tested using the data of the experimental watershed, Walnut Gulch, Arizona, USA, gauged by 88 rainfall stations and several discharge recording flumes. The results show that the model can accurately predict the runoff hydrograph where suitable input is available.