Articles | Volume 17, issue 11
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 17, 4453–4470, 2013

Special issue: Predictions under change: water, earth, and biota in the anthropocene...

Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 17, 4453–4470, 2013

Research article 12 Nov 2013

Research article | 12 Nov 2013

A paradigm shift in stormflow predictions for active tectonic regions with large-magnitude storms: generalisation of catchment observations by hydraulic sensitivity analysis and insight into soil-layer evolution

Makoto Tani Makoto Tani
  • Laboratory of Forest Hydrology, Graduate School of Agriculture, Kyoto University, Kitashirakawa, Sakyo, Kyoto, 606-8502, Japan

Abstract. In active tectonic regions with large-magnitude storms, it is still difficult to predict stormflow responses by distributed runoff models from the catchment properties without a parameter calibration using observational data. This paper represents an attempt to address the problem. A review of observational studies showed that the stormflow generation mechanism was heterogeneous and complex, but stormflow responses there were simply simulated by a single tank with a drainage hole when the stormflow-contribution area was spatially invariable due to the sufficient amount of rainfall supply. These results suggested such a quick inflow/outflow waveform transmission was derived from the creation of a hydraulic continuum under a quasi-steady state. General conditions necessary for the continuum creation were theoretically examined by a sensitivity analysis for a sloping soil layer. A new similarity framework using the Richards equation was developed for specifying the sensitivities of waveform transmission to topographic and soil properties. The sensitivity analysis showed that saturation-excess overland flow was generally produced from a soil layer without any macropore effect, whereas the transmission was derived mainly from the vertical unsaturated flow instead of the downslope flow in a soil layer with a large drainage capacity originated from the macropore effect. Both were possible for the quick transmission, but a discussion on the soil-layer evolution process suggested that an inhibition of the overland flow due to a large drainage capacity played a key role, because a confinement of the water flow within the soil layer might be needed for the evolution against strong erosional forces in the geographical regions. The long history of its evolution may mediate a relationship between simple stormflow responses and complex catchment properties. As a result, an insight into this evolution process and an inductive evaluation of the dependences on catchment properties by comparative hydrology are highly encouraged to predict stormflow responses by distributed runoff models.