Quantifying the hydrological impact of simulated changes in land use on peak discharge in a small catchment

Publisher's full text
Zahra Kalantari
Steve Lyon
Lennart Folkeson
Helen French
Jannes Stolte
Per-Erik Jansson
Mona Sassner

A physically-based, distributed hydrological model (MIKE SHE) was used to quantify overland runoff in response to four extreme rain events and four types of simulated land use measure in a catchment in Norway. The current land use in the catchment comprises arable lands, forest, urban areas and a stream that passes under a motorway at the catchment outlet. This model simulation study demonstrates how the composition and configuration of land use measures affect discharge at the catchment outlet differently in response to storms of different sizes. For example, clear-cutting on 30% of the catchment area produced a 60% increase in peak discharge and a 10% increase in total runoff resulting from a 50-year storm event in summer, but the effects on peak discharge were less pronounced during smaller storms. Reforestation of 60% of the catchment area was the most effective measure in reducing peak flows for smaller (2-, 5- and 10-year) storms. Introducing grassed waterways reduced water velocity in the stream and resulted in a 28% reduction in peak flow at the catchment outlet for the 50-year storm event. Overall, the results indicate that the specific effect of land use measures on catchment discharge depends on their spatial distribution and on the size and timing of storm events.

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