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Process-based runoff generation approach for hydrological models


WSL has taken a leading role in Switzerland in the development of hydrological models in recent years. However, the current modules to describe the runoff of these models are dependent on calibration and not able to describe the water runoff in areas without measurements in sufficient accuracy. Past floods and the drought in early 2011 have shown us the limits of the conceptual storage-model previously used. The know-how to engineer better process-oriented approaches to such models, has been for several years one of the strengths of the private offices Scherrer AG hydrology and flood control and Soilcom Ltd. Therefore a smaller working group has formed, which in the context of a preliminary study wants to start specific attempt for coupling the expertise of all involved.

We want to make a first step towards a new process-related runoff generation routine for the hydrological models PREVAH and Alpine3D developed and used at the WSL. The innovation of the new drainage module consists in the inclusion of spatially distributed process information from so-called runoff process maps, which are created on the basis of field surveys and geographical bases. This methodology has been developed over many years of research at the ETH and is due to the direct involvement of the offices Scherrer AG and GmbH Soilcom for the intended study.

Main tasks

  • literature study on the state of research of the integration of the process understanding into conceptual and physically based hydrological models
  • developing a strategy how this process flow maps can be assimilated
  • programming (= implementation of this strategy) including the processing of two case studies in a Mediterranean and a pre-alpine catchment area
  • Conclusion of the project, the results are presented in the form of a seminar at the FOEN.