hydrologic watershed modeling
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Hydrologic/Watershed Modeling. Glenn Tootle, P.E. Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering University of Nevada, Las Vegas [email protected] , Ph.D. Department of Civil and Architectural Engineering University of Wyoming [email protected] Questions?.

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hydrologic watershed modeling

Hydrologic/Watershed Modeling

Glenn Tootle, P.E.

Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

University of Nevada, Las Vegas

[email protected]

, Ph.D.

Department of Civil and Architectural Engineering

University of Wyoming

[email protected]

  • Who has used / developed a hydrologic model?
  • What model(s) did you use?
  • Examples
conceptual model of watershed modeling
Conceptual Model of Watershed Modeling
  • Typical Input
  • Topography
  • Soil Characteristics
  • Land cover
  • Land use
  • Meteorological data
  • Typical Output
  • Streamflow
  • Subsurface Flow
  • Depth to water table
steps to hydrologic modeling
Steps to Hydrologic Modeling
  • Delineate watershed
  • Obtain hydrologic and geographic data
  • Select modeling approach
  • Calibrate/Verify model
  • Use model for assessment/prediction/design
what is a watershed
What is a Watershed?
  • Area that topographically contributes to the drainage to a point of interest

Natural Watershed

  • Points of Interest
  • Road crossing
  • Stream gage
  • Reservoir inlet
  • Wastewater treatment plant
  • Location of stream restoration
digital elevation model dem
Digital Elevation Model (DEM)
  • Digital file that stores the elevation of the land surface a specified grid cell size (e.g., 30 meters)
geographic data
Geographic Data
  • Land use
  • Land cover
geographic data1
Geographic Data
  • Soil type/classification
hydrologic data
Hydrologic Data
  • Meteorological Data
    • Temperature
    • Precipitation
    • Wind speed
    • Humidity
  • Extrapolation of point measurements
    • Theissen Polygons
    • Inverse distance weighting
hydrologic data1
Hydrologic Data


  • Hydrologic Data
    • Streamflow
      • Peak discharge
      • Daily flow volume
      • Annual flow volume
    • Soil moisture
    • Groundwater level
basis for many hydrologic models
Basis for Many Hydrologic Models
  • Hydrologic Budget (In – Out = ΔStorage)

Transpiration (T)

Streamflow (Q)

Evaporation (E)

Groundwater out (GWout)


Precipitation (P)

Groundwater in (GWin)

Infiltration (I)


(P + GWin) – (E + T + I + GWout + Q) = ΔStoragereservoir

which model should be used
Which Model Should be Used?
  • It Depends on:
    • What time scale are you working at?
    • What hydrologic quantity are you trying to obtain?
    • What data do you have for your watershed?
    • How fast of a computer do you have?
spatial scaling of models
Spatial Scaling of Models


Parameters assigned to each grid cell, but cells with same parameters are grouped


Parameters assigned to each grid cell


Parameters assigned to each subbasin




stanford watershed model hspf
Stanford Watershed Model(HSPF)
  • Physically-based and continuous simulation
variable infiltration capacity vic 3l
Variable Infiltration Capacity (VIC-3L)
  • Continuous simulation and physically-based
  • Macroscale hydrologic model that solves full water and energy balances
calibrating a model
Calibrating a Model
  • Typically the model is calibrated against observed streamflow data
  • Depending on the model complexity, parameters are adjusted until observed streamflow equals model streamflow
  • Which observed value to use:
    • Qpeak
    • Qvolume
    • tpeak



  • tpeak
  • Qvolume


sensitive parameters
Sensitive Parameters
  • Precipitation
  • Soil parameters
    • Hydraulic conductivity
    • Soil water holding capacity
  • Evaporation (for continuous simulation)
  • Flow routing parameters (for event-based)
  • Precipitation
    • Extrapolation of point to other areas
    • Temporal resolution of data
  • Soils information
    • Surveys are based on site visits and then extrapolated
  • Routing parameters
    • Usually assigned based on empirical studies
use of models
Use of Models
  • Assessment
    • What happens if land use/land cover is changed?
  • Prediction
    • Flood forecasting
  • Design
    • How much flow will occur in a 100 year storm?