Differential influences of storm and watershed characteristics on runoff from ephemeral streams in southeastern Arizona
AuthorKoterba, Michael T.
Experimental watershed areas -- Arizona -- Cochise County -- Mathematical models.
Runoff -- Arizona -- Cochise County -- Mathematical models.
Streamflow -- Arizona -- Cochise County -- Mathematical models.
Storms -- Arizona -- Cochise County -- Mathematical models.
Committee ChairMaddock, Thomas, III
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractRelationships between thunderstorm and watershed variables and runoff from or within semiarid watersheds at Walnut Gulch, Arizona were examined. Variables showing greater sensitivity to basin and storm size were better flow predictors. Stepwise regression with three increasingly nonlinear algebraic models showed mean storm depth was the best simple predictor of runoff. Predictions improved using storm volume, a product of storm depth and areal extent. Initial runoff to streams was best described as a highly nonlinear function of storm and watershed variables. Runoff from a basin was a more linearized function of similar variables. The above differences were ascribed to channel transmission losses, reductions in runoff moving down initially dry channels. For a given basin and small storms, loss to runoff ratios exceeded 10:1 and were highly variable. Ratios were similar and less than 0.5:1 for storms centrally located over a basin and generating sufficient initial runoff to minimize flow variation due to losses. Losses increased disproportionately with basin size. Antecedent rainfall and first summer flows also affected rainfall runoff relationships in a differential manner. Wet conditions enhanced runoff more from larger versus smaller storms. First summer flows were less than expected probably because of higher soil infiltration and channel losses at the onset of summer storms. Overall, as storm size decreased or basin area increased, initial runoff was more often a localized phenomenon and downstream flow more dependent on storm depth, extent, location, and seasonal timing and basin channel losses, but less dependent on antecedent rainfall. Consequently, storm depth accounted for only 60% to 70% of the variation in flows while storm volume, antecedent rainfall, channel losses, and first summer flows explained 80% to 90%. Finally, oversimplifying storm or watershed variables or analytical methods led to errors in assessing their affect on runoff. It was also determined that current arguments supporting a recommendation to delete smaller, frequent annual floods to better fit remaining data to flood frequency curves were oversimplified. Distributed rainfall - runoff models with channel losses and regional storm depth - area - frequency data may be the way to develope flood curves for semiarid basins with short runoff records.
Degree NamePh. D.
Degree ProgramHydrology and Water Resources
Degree GrantorUniversity of Arizona
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