Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2020ND081B

Development of a new depression-oriented watershed hydrologic model and its application in North Dakota

Institute: North Dakota
Year Established: 2020 Start Date: 2020-02-27 End Date: 2021-02-25
Total Federal Funds: $7,508 Total Non-Federal Funds: $23,738

Principal Investigators: Xuefeng Chu

Abstract: Surface depressions are important topographic features, which affect surface runoff, infiltration, soil erosion, and other hydrologic, environmental, and ecological processes. It has been found that depressions undergo filling, spilling, merging, and splitting processes under natural conditions, resulting in discontinuous overland flow and variable contributing area. The objective of this 1-year project is to develop a new depression-oriented watershed hydrologic model to simulate the variation of contributing area and threshold-controlled overland flow dynamics. In the new model, topographic analyses are first performed to characterize surface depressions and determine their intrinsic relationships, which is followed by the simulation of rainfall-runoff processes. Specifically, the depression-dominated intrinsic changing pattern of contributing areas and the probability distribution function of their occurrences are quantified in the topographic analyses. Such information is further used in the model to determine the contributing area, depression storage, surface runoff, and their occurrence probabilities under different rainfall conditions. The new model will be applied to the Edmore Coulee watershed in the Prairie Pothole Region (PPR) in North Dakota. The performance of the model will be evaluated by comparing the simulated and observed discharge data. This study will eventually demonstrate the enhanced capabilities of the new model and its applicability in various depression-dominated regions. The new modeling approach would also improve our understanding of the evolution of contributing area and the mechanism of surface runoff generation.