A Stochastic Water Balance Framework for Lowland Watersheds

Sally Thompson, Lissa MacVean, Murugesu Sivapalan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The water balance dynamics in lowland watersheds are influenced not only by local hydroclimatic controls on energy and water availability, but also by imports of water from the upstream watershed. These imports result in a stochastic extent of inundation in lowland watersheds that is determined by the local flood regime, watershed topography, and the rate of loss processes such as drainage and evaporation. Thus, lowland watershed water balances depend on two stochastic processesrainfall and local inundation dynamics. Lowlands are high productivity environments that are disproportionately associated with urbanization, high productivity agriculture, biodiversity, and flood risk. Consequently, they are being rapidly altered by human developmentgenerally with clear economic and social motivationbut also with significant trade-offs in ecosystem services provision, directly related to changes in the components and variability of the lowland water balance. We present a stochastic framework to assess the lowland water balance and its sensitivity to two common human interventionsreplacement of native vegetation with alternative land uses, and construction of local flood protection levees. By providing analytical solutions for the mean and PDF of the water balance components, the proposed framework provides a mechanism to connect human interventions to hydrologic outcomes, and, in conjunction with ecosystem service production estimates, to evaluate trade-offs associated with lowland watershed development.

Plain Language Summary The water balance is the fundamental partitioning of water between different inputs to a catchment, for example rainfall or snow, and processes that remove water from an areasuch as streamflow, evaporation, and deep recharge. The controls on the water balance have been well described in dryland areas. In lowland areaslike river deltas or floodplainsthe water balance is also influenced by water inputs from streams. Development of lowlands that alters these inputs can perturb the water balance in important ways. This study uses a theoretical approach to link the properties of the flow regime to flooding of lowland environments and water balance partitioning. It shows how building levees and changing land cover sets up trade-offs in terms of flood occurrence, flood duration, and total evaporation. These trade-offs impact the productivity and hazards associated with lowland areas. Being able to describe them analytically sets the stage for subsequent sociohydrologic assessment of lowland developments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9564-9579
Number of pages16
JournalWater Resources Research
Volume53
Issue number11
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2017
Externally publishedYes

Cite this

Thompson, Sally ; MacVean, Lissa ; Sivapalan, Murugesu. / A Stochastic Water Balance Framework for Lowland Watersheds. In: Water Resources Research. 2017 ; Vol. 53, No. 11. pp. 9564-9579.
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A Stochastic Water Balance Framework for Lowland Watersheds. / Thompson, Sally; MacVean, Lissa; Sivapalan, Murugesu.

In: Water Resources Research, Vol. 53, No. 11, 11.2017, p. 9564-9579.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

TY - JOUR

T1 - A Stochastic Water Balance Framework for Lowland Watersheds

AU - Thompson, Sally

AU - MacVean, Lissa

AU - Sivapalan, Murugesu

PY - 2017/11

Y1 - 2017/11

N2 - The water balance dynamics in lowland watersheds are influenced not only by local hydroclimatic controls on energy and water availability, but also by imports of water from the upstream watershed. These imports result in a stochastic extent of inundation in lowland watersheds that is determined by the local flood regime, watershed topography, and the rate of loss processes such as drainage and evaporation. Thus, lowland watershed water balances depend on two stochastic processesrainfall and local inundation dynamics. Lowlands are high productivity environments that are disproportionately associated with urbanization, high productivity agriculture, biodiversity, and flood risk. Consequently, they are being rapidly altered by human developmentgenerally with clear economic and social motivationbut also with significant trade-offs in ecosystem services provision, directly related to changes in the components and variability of the lowland water balance. We present a stochastic framework to assess the lowland water balance and its sensitivity to two common human interventionsreplacement of native vegetation with alternative land uses, and construction of local flood protection levees. By providing analytical solutions for the mean and PDF of the water balance components, the proposed framework provides a mechanism to connect human interventions to hydrologic outcomes, and, in conjunction with ecosystem service production estimates, to evaluate trade-offs associated with lowland watershed development.Plain Language Summary The water balance is the fundamental partitioning of water between different inputs to a catchment, for example rainfall or snow, and processes that remove water from an areasuch as streamflow, evaporation, and deep recharge. The controls on the water balance have been well described in dryland areas. In lowland areaslike river deltas or floodplainsthe water balance is also influenced by water inputs from streams. Development of lowlands that alters these inputs can perturb the water balance in important ways. This study uses a theoretical approach to link the properties of the flow regime to flooding of lowland environments and water balance partitioning. It shows how building levees and changing land cover sets up trade-offs in terms of flood occurrence, flood duration, and total evaporation. These trade-offs impact the productivity and hazards associated with lowland areas. Being able to describe them analytically sets the stage for subsequent sociohydrologic assessment of lowland developments.

AB - The water balance dynamics in lowland watersheds are influenced not only by local hydroclimatic controls on energy and water availability, but also by imports of water from the upstream watershed. These imports result in a stochastic extent of inundation in lowland watersheds that is determined by the local flood regime, watershed topography, and the rate of loss processes such as drainage and evaporation. Thus, lowland watershed water balances depend on two stochastic processesrainfall and local inundation dynamics. Lowlands are high productivity environments that are disproportionately associated with urbanization, high productivity agriculture, biodiversity, and flood risk. Consequently, they are being rapidly altered by human developmentgenerally with clear economic and social motivationbut also with significant trade-offs in ecosystem services provision, directly related to changes in the components and variability of the lowland water balance. We present a stochastic framework to assess the lowland water balance and its sensitivity to two common human interventionsreplacement of native vegetation with alternative land uses, and construction of local flood protection levees. By providing analytical solutions for the mean and PDF of the water balance components, the proposed framework provides a mechanism to connect human interventions to hydrologic outcomes, and, in conjunction with ecosystem service production estimates, to evaluate trade-offs associated with lowland watershed development.Plain Language Summary The water balance is the fundamental partitioning of water between different inputs to a catchment, for example rainfall or snow, and processes that remove water from an areasuch as streamflow, evaporation, and deep recharge. The controls on the water balance have been well described in dryland areas. In lowland areaslike river deltas or floodplainsthe water balance is also influenced by water inputs from streams. Development of lowlands that alters these inputs can perturb the water balance in important ways. This study uses a theoretical approach to link the properties of the flow regime to flooding of lowland environments and water balance partitioning. It shows how building levees and changing land cover sets up trade-offs in terms of flood occurrence, flood duration, and total evaporation. These trade-offs impact the productivity and hazards associated with lowland areas. Being able to describe them analytically sets the stage for subsequent sociohydrologic assessment of lowland developments.

KW - lowlands

KW - water balance

KW - flood

KW - stochastic

KW - analytic

KW - levee

KW - SEASONALLY DRY CLIMATES

KW - NORTHERN NIGERIA

KW - FLOODPLAIN

KW - RIVER

KW - MODEL

KW - SOIL

KW - LANDSCAPES

KW - VEGETATION

KW - HYDROLOGY

KW - RICE

U2 - 10.1002/2017WR021193

DO - 10.1002/2017WR021193

M3 - Article

VL - 53

SP - 9564

EP - 9579

JO - Water Resources Research

JF - Water Resources Research

SN - 0043-1397

IS - 11

ER -