Applicability of a physically based soil water model (SWMOD) in design flood estimation in eastern Australia
Event-based rainfall–runoff models are useful tools for hydrologic design. Of the many loss models, the ‘initial loss-continuing loss’ model is widely adopted in practice. Some of the key limitations with these types of loss models include the arbitrary selection of initial moisture (IM) conditions and lack of physically meaningful parameters. This paper investigates the applicability of a physically based soil water balance model (SWMOD) with distributed IM conditions for flood modelling. Four catchments from the east coast of New South Wales, Australia, are modelled. The IM content in SWMOD represents the antecedent moisture condition. A quasi-Monte Carlo simulation framework is adopted, where the IM is stochastically varied according to a lognormal probability distribution. In calibration, it is found that the adopted modelling framework is able to simulate the majority of the observed flood hydrographs with a higher degree of accuracy; however, in a design context, when compared to the results of conventional flood frequency analysis, discrepancies are noted for a range of annual exceedance probabilities. The quasi-Monte Carlo simulation framework proved to be useful in assessing the effect of the IM content on design flood estimates.