On the utilization of hydrological modelling for road drainage design under climate and land use change

Publisher's full text
Zahra Kalantari
A Briel
Steve Lyon
Bo Olofsson
Lennart Folkeson

Road drainage structures are often designed using methods that do not consider process-based representations of a landscape's hydrological response. This may create inadequately sized structures as coupled land cover and climate changes can lead to an amplified hydrological response. This study aims to quantify potential increases of runoff in response to future extreme rain events in a 61 km(2) catchment (40% forested) in southwest Sweden using a physically-based hydrological modelling approach. We simulate peak discharge and water level (stage) at two types of pipe bridges and one culvert, both of which are commonly used at Swedish road/stream intersections, under combined forest clear-cutting and future climate scenarios for 2050 and 2100. The frequency of changes in peak flow and water level varies with time (seasonality) and storm size. These changes indicate that the magnitude of peak flow and the runoff response are highly correlated to season rather than storm size. In all scenarios considered, the dimensions of the current culvert are insufficient to handle the increase in water level estimated using a physically-based modelling approach. It also appears that the water level at the pipe bridges changes differently depending on the size and timing of the storm events. The findings of the present study and the approach put forward should be considered when planning investigations on and maintenance for areas at risk of high water flows. In addition, the research highlights the utility of physically-based hydrological models to identify the appropriateness of road drainage structure dimensioning

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