Development and application of a simple hydrogeomorphic model for headwater catchments



[1] We developed a catchment model based on a hydrogeomorphic concept that simulates discharge from channel-riparian complexes, zero-order basins (ZOB, basins ZB and FA), and hillslopes. Multitank models simulate ZOB and hillslope hydrological response, while kinematic wave models predict saturation overland runoff from riparian zones and route inputs from ZOB and riparian corridors through the channel. The model was parameterized and tested in the Hitachi Ohta Experiment Watershed, Japan. Tank models were parameterized for a 6 month period from May to October 1992, and these models were then tested for the same 6 month period in 1993. In ZB, with relatively shallower soils, total outflow for the 6 month period in 1993 was underpredicted by 25%. Better predictions were obtained for outflow from FA (deeper soils; −17%) and the entire catchment (−5%). Total runoff from the channel and riparian area depends on the ratio of this area to the total catchment area because this corridor is assumed to be saturated at all times. Stormflow response from ZOB was limited during relatively dry conditions and increased substantially during wetter conditions, especially in ZB, which has shallower soils (1.4 m of average); such effects were diminished in FA (deeper soils) and hillslopes. Outflow from ZB had the highest proportion of rapid flow, while slower flow dominates outflow from FA and hillslopes; these different responses appear to be mainly associated with soil depth and topography. Groundwater recharge, estimated by leakage from the lowermost tank in the models, was as high as 61 mm week−1 from ZB, with lesser recharge from other geomorphic components (18–21 mm week−1). These spatially explicit simulations provide a simpler approach to the greater data demands of distributed hydrologic models without compromising process function.