Thresholds in the storm response of a lake chain system and the occurrence and magnitude of lake overflows : implications for flood frequency

D.I. Kusumastuti, M. Sivapalan, I. Struthers, D.A. Reynolds

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    8 Citations (Scopus)


    The aim of this paper is to illustrate the effects of spatial organization of lake chains and associated storage thresholds upon lake-overflow behaviour, and specifically their impact upon large scale flow connectivity and the flood frequency of lake overflows. The analysis was carried out with the use of a multiple bucket model of the lake chain system, consisting of a network of both lakes and associated catchment areas, which explicitly incorporated within it three storage thresholds: a catchment field capacity threshold that governs catchment subsurface stormflow, a total storage capacity threshold that governs catchment surface runoff, and a lake storage capacity threshold that determines lake overflow. The model is driven by rainfall inputs generated by a stochastic rainfall model that is able to capture rainfall variability at a wide range of time scales. The study is used to gain insights into the process controls of lake-overflow generation, and in particular, to explore the crucial role of factors relating to lake organization, such as the average catchment area to lake area (AC/AL) ratio and the distribution of AC/AL with distance in the downstream direction (increasing or decreasing). The study showed that the average AC/AL value was the most important factor determining the frequency of occurrence and magnitude of floods from a landscape consisting of lake chains. The larger the average AC/AL value the more runoff is generated from catchments thus increasing both the occurrence and magnitude of lake overflows. In this case the flood frequency curve reflects that of the catchment area, and lake organization does not play an important role. When AC/AL is small the landscape is lake dominated, the spatial organization of lakes has a significant impact on lake connectivity, and consequently on flood frequency. One of the aspects of lake organization that may have a significant influence on lake connectivity is the spatial distribution of AC/AL from upstream to downstream (increasing or decreasing). In a landscape in which AC/AL increases downstream, lake overflow will occur more frequently relative to a similar landscape (i.e. identical AC/AL) with a constant value of AC/AL. When AC/AL decreases downstream, however, runoff inputs from the upstream parts will trigger lake overflow in the downstream parts, and consequently, full connectivity may be achieved leading to increased flood frequencies.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1651-1661
    JournalAdvances in Water Resources
    Issue number12
    Publication statusPublished - 2008


    Dive into the research topics of 'Thresholds in the storm response of a lake chain system and the occurrence and magnitude of lake overflows : implications for flood frequency'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this