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Flow Routing Models Using GIS

Francisco Olivera, Ph.D., P.E. Department of Civil Engineering Texas A&M University

ity The Problem tun por Op
To analyze hydrologic processes in a nonuniform landscape. Nonuniformity of the terrain involves the topography, land use and soils, and consequently affects the hydrologic properties of the flow paths. Nonuniformity also includes different locations: geomorphology. Watershed point Flow path

Watershed divide Watershed outlet

The Solutions
Lumped models: Easy to implement, but do not account for terrain variability. Spatially-distributed models: Require sophisticated tools to implement, but account for terrain variability.

Soil Water Balance Model
Temperature Net Radiation Evapotranspiration Runoff Streamflow Infiltration Soil moisture Groundwater flow

Precipitation

Global Data
Precipitation (Jan.) Temperature (Jan.)

Net Radiation (Jan.)

Soil Water Holding Capacity

Precipitation and temperature data, at 0.5° resolution, by D. Legates and C. Willmott of the University of Delaware. Net radiation data, at 2.5° resolution, by the Earth Radiation Budget Experiment (ERBR). Soil water holding capacity, at a 0.5° resolution, by Dunne and Willmott.

Global Monthly Surplus

Animation prepared by Dr. Kwabena Asante

Flow Routing Models
Sub-Basin

Element-to-element
Junction

Reach Sink Flow-path Sink

Source to sink

Source

Cell

Cell

Cell-to-cell

Element-to-Element
Congo River basin subdivided into sub-basins and reaches. Sub-basins and reaches delineated from digital elevation models (1-km resolution). Streams drain more than 50,000 km2. One sub-basins was defined for each stream segment. On average, subbasins are 100,000 km2.

Element-to-Element
This approach resembles that of HEC-HMS. Hydrologic system schematic of the Congo River basin as displayed by HEC-HMS. Hydrologic modeling of large areas should not be conducted with HEC-HMS, which has been developed for small watersheds.

Element-to-Element
Defines hydrologic elements (subbasins, reaches, junctions, reservoirs, diversions, sources and sinks) and their topology. Elements are attributed with hydrologic parameters extracted from GIS spatial data. Flow is routed from element-toelement and hydrographs are calculated at all elements. Different flow routing options are available for each hydrologic element type. Sub-Basin

GIS tools

Sub-Basin

Junction

Reach

Sink

HEC-HMS

Sub-Basin

Source-to-Sink
A 0.5°x0.5° mesh is used to subdivide the terrain into land boxes, which capture the geomorphology.

Sources are obtained by
intersecting: drainage area of the sinks land boxes Number of sources: Congo River basin: 1,379 African continent: 13,530

Source-to-Sink
Defines sources where surplus enters the surface water system, and sinks where surplus leaves the surface water system. Flow is routed from the sources directly to the sinks, and hydrographs are calculated at the sinks only. A response function is used to represent the motion of water from the sources to the sinks.

Source Source

Flow-path

Sink Flow-path

Source-to-Sink
δ(t)
Source - i Flow-path - i Sink Ui(t) Ui(t)

δ(t)
Pure advection t

δ(t)
Advection, dispersion and losses

Ui(t)

t

t

t

Cell-to-Cell

Cell-to-Cell

Sets a mesh of cells on the terrain and establishes their connectivity. Congo River basin subdivided into cells by a 2.8125° × 2.8125° mesh. With this resolution, 69 cells were defined.

Cell-to-Cell
Represents each cell as a linear reservoir (outflow proportional to storage). One parameter per cell: residence time in the cell.

Li Ki = vi
Flow is routed from cell-to-cell and hydrographs are calculated at each cell.

K1

K2

K3

K4

K5

Final remarks

There are different algorithms for flow routing:
The element-to-element model uses physically-based elements (watersheds, streams and others). The source-to-sink model is an efficient algorithm for calculating flows at a given point. The cell-to-cell model can easily interact with global

circulation models; can represent advection and dispersion processes; and can represent reservoirs and floodplain storage.