Catchment hydrologic response with a fully distributed triangulated irregular network model

Authors

  • Valeriy Y. Ivanov,

    1. Ralph M. Parsons Laboratory, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
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  • Enrique R. Vivoni,

    1. Department of Earth and Environmental Science, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, Socorro, New Mexico, USA
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  • Rafael L. Bras,

    1. Ralph M. Parsons Laboratory, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
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  • Dara Entekhabi

    1. Ralph M. Parsons Laboratory, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
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Abstract

[1] This study explores various aspects of catchment hydrology based on a mechanistic modeling of distributed watershed processes. A new physics-based, distributed-parameter hydrological model that uses an irregular spatial discretization is introduced. The model accounts, on a continuous basis, for the processes of rainfall interception, evapotranspiration, moisture dynamics in the unsaturated and saturated zones, and runoff routing. Simulations of several mid- to large-sized watersheds (∼103 km2) highlight various dynamic relationships between the vadose zone–groundwater processes and their dependence on the land surface characteristics. It is argued that the model inferences can be used for interpretation of distributed relationships in a catchment. By exploiting a multiple-resolution representation, the hydrologic features of the watershed terrain are captured with only 5–10% of the original grid nodes. This computational efficiency suggests the feasibility of the operational use of fully distributed, physics-based models for large watersheds.

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