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Hydropedology and Surface/Subsurface Runoff Processes

Part 10. Rainfall-Runoff Processes

  1. Henry Lin1,
  2. Erin Brooks2,
  3. Paul McDaniel2,
  4. Jan Boll2

Published Online: 15 SEP 2008

DOI: 10.1002/0470848944.hsa306

Encyclopedia of Hydrological Sciences

Encyclopedia of Hydrological Sciences

How to Cite

Lin, H., Brooks, E., McDaniel, P. and Boll, J. 2008. Hydropedology and Surface/Subsurface Runoff Processes. Encyclopedia of Hydrological Sciences. 10.

Author Information

  1. 1

    Pennsylvania State University, Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, University Park, PA, US

  2. 2

    University of Idaho, Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering, Department of Plant, Soil, and Entomological Sciences, Moscow, ID, US

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 SEP 2008


The role of soils has long been recognized as critical to rainfall–runoff processes in watersheds. Hydropedology is an emerging interdisciplinary field that integrates pedology, hydrology, geomorphology, and other related bio- and geosciences to study interactive pedologic and hydrologic processes and the landscape–soil–hydrology relationships across space and time. This article presents an overview of hydropedology's contributions to the understanding and modeling of surface/subsurface runoff processes, especially the diagnosis of soil features that can help answer “why-type” questions in watershed hydrology and the ubiquitous nature of preferential flow and its networks. We highlight two bottlenecks for advancing watershed hydrology and hydropedology: a conceptual bottleneck of modeling subsurface preferential flow networks and a technological bottleneck of nondestructively mapping or imaging subsurface architecture. Quantification of “soil architecture” at various scales and the identification of “hydropedologic functional units” in different landscapes offer promising potentials to advance hydrologic modeling. We present the information of linking surface/subsurface runoff processes to pedologic understanding at three scales of microscopic (macropores and aggregates), mesoscopic (horizons and pedons), and macroscopic (hillslopes and catchments) levels. Various examples from the literature are synthesized to illustrate the key points. Further research needs are suggested in the end.


  • hydropedology;
  • rainfall–runoff;
  • soil architecture;
  • macropores;
  • horizonation;
  • water-restricting layer;
  • catena;
  • preferential flow;
  • hillslope hydrology;
  • subsurface flow network