Modelling design flood hydrographs in catchments with mixed urban and rural land cover

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Courtesy of IWA Publishing

The effect of urban land cover on catchment flood response is evaluated using a lumped rainfall–runoff model to analyse flood events from selected UK catchments with mixed urban and rural land use. The present study proposes and evaluates a series of three extensions to an existing model to enable a better representation of urban effects, namely: an increase in runoff volume, reduced response time and a decrease in baseflow (resulting from decreased infiltration). Based on observed flood events from seven catchments, cross-validation methods are used to compare the predictive ability of the model variants with that of the original unmodified model. The results show that inclusion of urban effects increases the predictive ability of the model across catchments, despite large between-event variability of model performance. More detailed investigations into the relationship between model performance and individual event characteristics (antecedent soil moisture, rainfall duration, depth and intensity) did not reveal systematic inabilities of the model to reproduce certain types of events. Finally, it is demonstrated that the new extended model has the ability to simulate urban effects in accordance with the expected changes in storm runoff patterns.

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