Distributed rainfall-runoff modelling for flood frequency estimation and flood forecasting


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Abstract

Nowadays, in the scientific literature many rainfall-runoff (RR) models are available ranging from simpler ones, with a limited number of parameters, to highly complex ones, with many parameters. Therefore, the selection of the best structure and parameterisation for a model is not straightforward as it is dependent on a number of factors: climatic conditions, catchment characteristics, temporal and spatial resolution, model objectives, etc. In this study, the structure of a continuous semi-distributed RR model, named MISDc (‘Modello Idrologico Semi-Distribuito in continuo’) developed for flood simulation in the Upper Tiber River (central Italy) is presented. Most notably, the methodology employed to detect the more relevant processes involved in the modelling of high floods, and hence, to build the model structure and its parameters, is developed. For this purpose, an intense activity of monitoring soil moisture and runoff in experimental catchments was carried out allowing to derive a parsimonious and reliable continuous RR model operating at an hourly (or smaller) time scale. Specifically, in order to determine the catchment hydrological response, the important role of the antecedent wetness conditions is emphasized. The application of MISDc both for design flood estimation and for flood forecasting is reported here demonstrating its reliability and also its computational efficiency, another important factor in hydrological practice. As far as the flood forecasting applications are concerned, only the accuracy of the model in reproducing discharge hydrographs by assuming rainfall correctly known throughout the event is investigated indepth. In particular, the MISDc has been implemented in the framework of Civil Protection activities for the Upper Tiber River basin. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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