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An Initial-Abstraction, Constant-Loss Model for Unit Hydrograph Modeling for Applicable Watersheds in Texas

Scientific Investigations Report 2007-5243

Prepared in cooperation with the Texas Department of Transportation
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Abstract

Estimation of representative hydrographs from design storms, which are known as design hydrographs, provides for cost-effective, riskmitigated design of drainage structures such as bridges, culverts, roadways, and other infrastructure. During 2001?07, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), in cooperation with the Texas Department of Transportation, investigated runoff hydrographs, design storms, unit hydrographs,and watershed-loss models to enhance design hydrograph estimation in Texas. Design hydrographs ideally should mimic the general volume, peak, and shape of observed runoff hydrographs. Design hydrographs commonly are estimated in part by unit hydrographs. A unit hydrograph is defined as the runoff hydrograph that results from a unit pulse of excess rainfall uniformly distributed over the watershed at a constant rate for a specific duration. A time-distributed, watershed-loss model is required for modeling by unit hydrographs. This report develops a specific time-distributed, watershed-loss model known as an initial-abstraction, constant-loss model. For this watershed-loss model, a watershed is conceptualized to have the capacity to store or abstract an absolute depth of rainfall at and near the beginning of a storm. Depths of total rainfall less than this initial abstraction do not produce runoff. The watershed also is conceptualized to have the capacity to remove rainfall at a constant rate (loss) after the initial abstraction is satisfied. Additional rainfall inputs after the initial abstraction is satisfied contribute to runoff if the rainfall rate (intensity) is larger than the constant loss. The initial abstraction, constant-loss model thus is a two-parameter model. The initial-abstraction, constant-loss model is investigated through detailed computational and statistical analysis of observed rainfall and runoff data for 92 USGS streamflow-gaging stations (watersheds) in Texas with contributing drainage areas from 0.26 to 166 square miles. The analysis is limited to a previously described, watershed-specific, gamma distribution model of the unit hydrograph. In particular, the initial-abstraction, constant-loss model is tuned to the gamma distribution model of the unit hydrograph. A complex computational analysis of observed rainfall and runoff for the 92 watersheds was done to determine, by storm, optimal values of initial abstraction and constant loss. Optimal parameter values for a given storm were defined as those values that produced a modeled runoff hydrograph with volume equal to the observed runoff hydrograph and also minimized the residual sum of squares of the two hydrographs. Subsequently, the means of the optimal parameters were computed on a watershed-specific basis. These means for each watershed are considered the most representative, are tabulated, and are used in further statistical analyses. Statistical analyses of watershed-specific, initial abstraction and constant loss include documentation of the distribution of each parameter using the generalized lambda distribution. The analyses show that watershed development has substantial influence on initial abstraction and limited influence on constant loss. The means and medians of the 92 watershed-specific parameters are tabulated with respect to watershed development; although they have considerable uncertainty, these parameters can be used for parameter prediction for ungaged watersheds. The statistical analyses of watershed-specific, initial abstraction and constant loss also include development of predictive procedures for estimation of each parameter for ungaged watersheds. Both regression equations and regression trees for estimation of initial abstraction and constant loss are provided. The watershed characteristics included in the regression analyses are (1) main-channel length, (2) a binary factor representing watershed development, (3) a binary factor representing watersheds with an abundance of rocky and thin-soiled terrain, and (4) curve numb

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Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Report
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Title:
An Initial-Abstraction, Constant-Loss Model for Unit Hydrograph Modeling for Applicable Watersheds in Texas
Series title:
Scientific Investigations Report
Series number:
2007-5243
Edition:
Version 1.0
Year Published:
2007
Language:
ENGLISH
Publisher:
Geological Survey (U.S.)
Contributing office(s):
Texas Water Science Center
Description:
Report: vi, 82 p.; Downloads Directory
Additional Online Files(Y/N):
Y