Standard Article

127 Rainfall-Runoff Modeling: Distributed Models

Part 11. Rainfall-Runoff Modeling

  1. Paolo Reggiani1,
  2. Jaap Schellekens1,2

Published Online: 15 APR 2006

DOI: 10.1002/0470848944.hsa135

Encyclopedia of Hydrological Sciences

Encyclopedia of Hydrological Sciences

How to Cite

Reggiani, P. and Schellekens, J. 2006. Rainfall-Runoff Modeling: Distributed Models. Encyclopedia of Hydrological Sciences. 11:127.

Author Information

  1. 1

    Inland Water Systems, Foundation Delft Hydraulics, Delft, The Netherlands

  2. 2

    Earth and Life Sciences, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 APR 2006


The present article presents a discussion of distributed modeling used in watershed hydrology from a modern perspective. The need for distributed modeling is explained on the basis of situations encountered in hydrological practice. The basic equations governing water and energy transfer in hydrology are introduced at the point- or microscale. It is explained how these equations are used in the different approaches through change in spatial scale from the microscale to an intermediate scale, the macroscale, or the megascale, which corresponds to the spatial dimension of some smaller or larger parts of the catchments. The strengths and limitations that have been recognized for the various approaches will be pointed out. As a possible alternative a flux-based approach, formulated entirely at the megascale, is highlighted. Its potential scope for practical applications will be discussed in the context of the closure problem for mass momentum and energy fluxes in hydrology.


  • distributed models;
  • flow processes;
  • physical laws;
  • change of scale;
  • flux closure