Incorporating land-use changes and surface-groundwater interactions in a simple catchment water yield model

M Gilfedder, David W. Rassam, M Stenson, I Jolly, Glen Walker, Mark Littleboy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

22 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Pressure on limited water resources and the environment requires better understanding of how landscape change impacts river flow. Rainfall-runoff models have traditionally focused on estimating total river flows with less emphasis on modelling the groundwater component or the consequences of different land-use change scenarios. In this paper, we present the GWlag model, a water-generation model that predicts river flows with explicit accounting of the impacts of catchment land-use change and surface-groundwater interactions. The paper firstly describes the theory that underpins the model and its calibration then presents a case study application in the Tarcutta Creek catchment of the Murray-Darling Basin, Australia. The case study aims at: (i) demonstrating the ability of the model to predict daily river flows; (ii) modelling the impacts of hypothetical plantation forestry expansions on river flows; and (iii) showing the impacts of reduced recharge on the low-flow regime using three indices, namely, Q 90/Q 50 (where Q n refers to nth percentile flow), slope of low-flow part of flow duration curve, and % of zero-flow days. Results showed that predicted flows agreed favourably to those observed at the gauge especially during low-flow conditions. The hypothetical plantation expansion from 32% to 87% of the catchment area has resulted in reductions of 48% and 32%, in Q 50 and Q 20, respectively. The low-flow indices demonstrated the great sensitivity of low flow to reductions in recharge with the trend of the low-flow response changing to non-linear for recharge reductions beyond 10%. GWlag daily river flow predictions compared favourably to those obtained from four other rainfall-runoff models in terms of the Nash-Sutcliffe model efficiency (E). However, GWlag produced the highest E-value for log-transformed flows thus highlighting the model's superior predictive capability during low-flow conditions. © 2012.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)62-73
Number of pages12
JournalEnvironmental Modelling and Software
Volume38
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

water yield
Land use
Catchments
land use change
Groundwater
low flow
river flow
catchment
groundwater
Rivers
Water
recharge
Runoff
Rain
runoff
plantation forestry
study application
rainfall
Forestry
landscape change

Cite this

Gilfedder, M ; Rassam, David W. ; Stenson, M ; Jolly, I ; Walker, Glen ; Littleboy, Mark. / Incorporating land-use changes and surface-groundwater interactions in a simple catchment water yield model. In: Environmental Modelling and Software. 2012 ; Vol. 38. pp. 62-73.
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Incorporating land-use changes and surface-groundwater interactions in a simple catchment water yield model. / Gilfedder, M; Rassam, David W.; Stenson, M; Jolly, I; Walker, Glen; Littleboy, Mark.

In: Environmental Modelling and Software, Vol. 38, 2012, p. 62-73.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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AU - Rassam, David W.

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AU - Littleboy, Mark

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AB - Pressure on limited water resources and the environment requires better understanding of how landscape change impacts river flow. Rainfall-runoff models have traditionally focused on estimating total river flows with less emphasis on modelling the groundwater component or the consequences of different land-use change scenarios. In this paper, we present the GWlag model, a water-generation model that predicts river flows with explicit accounting of the impacts of catchment land-use change and surface-groundwater interactions. The paper firstly describes the theory that underpins the model and its calibration then presents a case study application in the Tarcutta Creek catchment of the Murray-Darling Basin, Australia. The case study aims at: (i) demonstrating the ability of the model to predict daily river flows; (ii) modelling the impacts of hypothetical plantation forestry expansions on river flows; and (iii) showing the impacts of reduced recharge on the low-flow regime using three indices, namely, Q 90/Q 50 (where Q n refers to nth percentile flow), slope of low-flow part of flow duration curve, and % of zero-flow days. Results showed that predicted flows agreed favourably to those observed at the gauge especially during low-flow conditions. The hypothetical plantation expansion from 32% to 87% of the catchment area has resulted in reductions of 48% and 32%, in Q 50 and Q 20, respectively. The low-flow indices demonstrated the great sensitivity of low flow to reductions in recharge with the trend of the low-flow response changing to non-linear for recharge reductions beyond 10%. GWlag daily river flow predictions compared favourably to those obtained from four other rainfall-runoff models in terms of the Nash-Sutcliffe model efficiency (E). However, GWlag produced the highest E-value for log-transformed flows thus highlighting the model's superior predictive capability during low-flow conditions. © 2012.

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