The hydrological behaviour of urban streets: long-term observations and modelling of runoff losses and rainfall–runoff transformation

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Runoff on impervious surfaces (roads, roofs, etc.) raises a number of environmental and road safety-related problems. The primary objective of this research effort is to improve our knowledge of the hydrological behaviour of impervious urban surfaces in order to better assess runoff on these surfaces and its subsequent consequences. This article will focus on two street stretches studied over a 38-month period. Measurements of rainfall and runoff discharge on these stretches have made it possible to estimate runoff losses as well as to constitute a database for modelling purposes. On the basis of these data, two models have been used, one simple the other more detailed and physically based. For both models, runoff discharges at a 3-min time step are well reproduced, although runoff coefficients and runoff losses are still poorly estimated. Detailed analyses of experimental data and model output, however, indicate that runoff losses could be quite high on such ‘impervious surfaces’ (between 30 and 40% of total rainfall, depending on the street stretch) and that these losses are mainly because of evaporation and infiltration inside the road structure. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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