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MARGULIS

Introduction to

Hydrology

Watershed Educational Toolbox (MOD-WET)

2014A EDITION

Cover photo credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Image by Reto Stckli (land surface, shallow water, clouds). Enhancements by Robert Simmon (ocean

color, compositing, 3D globes, animation). Data and technical support: MODIS Land Group; MODIS Science Data Support Team; MODIS Atmosphere Group;

MODIS Ocean Group Additional data: USGS EROS Data Center (topography); USGS Terrestrial Remote Sensing Flagstaff Field Center (Antarctica); Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (city lights).

Throughout the text I have attempted to provide credit to the author/creator/reference from which any graphics

were obtained. Most of the graphics that are not original creations for this text were taken from the publiclyavailable COMET (MetEd) program. Others were taken from the public-domain and/or from credited sources. I

apologize for any omissions and would greatly appreciate being informed of them for correction in future versions.

Preface

This open-access e-textbook is the first iteration in an

experiment designed to provide a novel tool for learning the

basic concepts in hydrologic science. I hope it is a tool that

will be useful to the hydrologic community at large. It is

expected that the book and accompanying codes will be a

dynamic entity that will continue to evolve going forward. The

book is optimized for use as an electronic book on an iPad (or

other iBooks platform) to take full advantage of multimedia,

search capability, web links, etc. However, for those without

access to those platforms we also oer a PDF version (which

will not have the full functionality of the iBooks version).

Note: To be able to play the embedded multimedia

links in the PDF you will need to view the document

using the freely available Adobe Reader program

(www.adobe.com).

The material in the book is primarily derived from notes and

other material used in the undergraduate Civil &

Environmental Engineering (CEE) 150: Introduction to

Hydrology course oered in the Department of Civil and

Environmental Engineering at UCLA. CEE 150 is a 10-week

course designed to provide a survey of the hydrologic cycle.

The format of the course and topical coverage owes much of

its genesis to a similar course taught at MIT by Dara

Entekhabi. I have taught the course at UCLA for over 10

years and it has undergone a significant evolution over those

years.

week with a 2-hour discussion section for review and example

problems. This e-textbook is an attempt at organizing all of

the material in one format for students in the class (as well as

any others who may find the topic and material useful). It

would be relatively easily adaptable to either quarter-based or

semester-based courses. Some material beyond that which is

covered in the course is provided in the book for completeness.

It could also be useful as a reference text for other

undergraduate or graduate hydrology courses.

The book is organized into ten main sections: 1. The

Hydrologic Cycle, 2. Atmospheric Composition and

Thermodynamics, 3. Radiation Processes, 4. Large-scale

Atmospheric Circulation, 5. Precipitation Processes, 6. Snow

Processes, 7. Unsaturated Flow and Infiltration, 8.

Evaporation Processes, 9. Groundwater Flow and Well

Hydraulics, 10. Runo and Streamflow. The chapters in the

book are organized based on this topic list. A final chapter is

used to develop and present a distributed watershed model

developed from concepts covered throughout the previous

chapters of the book. The model is meant to show how

modular hydrologic concepts can be built-up to form a fully

functional watershed model. Each chapter comes with a set of

Learning Objectives that explicitly lay out the key things you

should know by the end of that chapter. Sample conceptual

questions and sample problems are also provided to assist in

the learning of the material.

It is my strong belief that the most important aspect of the

course is building students knowledge base through realistic

ii

significant amount of hands-on problem solving, with a

particular emphasis on realistic problem solving using

numerical modeling and applications. For numerical problems

I use MATLAB (http://www.mathworks.com/products/matlab)

as a framework since it is taught to all CEE undergraduates

earlier in their curriculum and is a relatively accessible and

user-friendly numerical tool. If not freely available in a

student computer lab, the student version of MATLAB provides

a useful alternative.

A novel aspect of the book is a companion set of MATLAB

functions. The functions are presented with each chapter as

modular units for doing associated numerical calculations and

modeling. The functions are ultimately pieced together to

form a simple distributed watershed model for educational

usage. Together, the set of functions and model are described

as the Modular Distributed Watershed Educational Toolbox

(MOD-WET). Apart from specific applications using

individual codes, MOD-WET aims to illustrate for students

how modular codes are useful because they can be reused in

many applications (not just in this course, but other related

courses) and built-up to form more complicated analysis and

modeling frameworks. The code along with the book are

available for download at: http://aqua.seas.ucla.edu/

margulis_intro_to_hydro_textbook.html.

The book benefits greatly from figures and animated videos,

many of which were created or inspired by others. In

particular the textbooks of Bras (1990), Mays (2005),

Marshall and Plumb (2007), and Dingman (2008) are

resources posted at the MetEd site (www.meted.ucar.edu)

provide a fantastic set of modules for learning many of the

concepts covered here (as well as many other related to

meteorology and associated fields). The MetEd site is

maintained by the COMET program (www.comet.ucar.edu)

with the primary goal of assisting education through advanced

learning materials. Many of the figures and movies used in the

text are those provided by MetEd. I am greatly appreciative

of this resource and would strongly encourage students to

explore the MetEd learning modules in more detail on their

own.

I greatly acknowledge the teaching assistants over the years

(in particular Michael Durand, Bart Forman, Keith

Musselman, Manuela Girotto, Laurie Huning, Mahdi Navari,

Liz Baldo, and Gonzalo Cortes) who have significantly

contributed to the development of the material into its current

form. In particular, Laurie and Manuela have greatly helped

in the development of the book and the integrated watershed

model. Additionally Ben Wong was very helpful in updating

and standardizing many of the MOD-WET codes.

Any errors (typographical or otherwise) or omissions in the

text are attributable to me. Bringing them to my attention

would be greatly appreciated and allow for continued

improvement of the text. I would be happy to add other

relevant problems to the book, watershed simulations, and/or

functions to MOD-WET based on user contributions.

Steve Margulis (margulis@seas.ucla.edu); July 2014

iii

Table of Contents

Preface ..........................................................i

Chapter 1: The Hydrologic Cycle .................7

Section 1: Learning Objectives ..........................................8

Section 2: Motivation ........................................................9

Section 3: The Hydrologic Cycle ......................................12

Section 4: Unique Properties of Water .............................14

Section 5: Mass balance, fluxes, and units .......................18

Section 6: Global Hydrologic Cycle and Average

Mass Balance.........................................................22

Section 7: Watershed Mass Balance .................................26

Section 8: MOD-WET Codes ...........................................32

Section 9: Conceptual Questions ......................................33

Section 10: Sample Problems ...........................................34

Section 1: Learning Objectives ....................................... 39

Section 2: Atmospheric Composition .............................. 40

Section 3: Atmospheric States .........................................42

Section 4: Metrics for Water Vapor Concentration

in Air.....................................................................45

Section 5: Vertical Profiles of Atmospheric States ...........50

Section 6: MOD-WET Codes ...........................................55

Section 7: Conceptual Questions ......................................56

Section 8: Sample Problems .............................................57

Section 1: Learning Objectives ........................................61

Section 2: Basics of Radiation .........................................62

Section 4: Radiative Properties of Media .........................67

Section 5: Modeling Top-of-Atmosphere Shortwave

Fluxes ...................................................................70

Section 6: Modeling Surface Shortwave Fluxes ................78

Section 7: Modeling Longwave Fluxes at the Surface .......89

Section 8: Net Radiation at the Surface ...........................93

Section 9: MOD-WET Codes ...........................................95

Section 10: Conceptual Questions ....................................97

Section 11: Sample Problems ...........................................98

Section 1: Learning Objectives ......................................104

Section 2: Global Distribution of TOA Net Radiation ...105

Section 3: Atmospheric Motions Driven by

Latitudinal Energy Imbalance .............................108

Section 4: Summary of Key Characteristics of

Circulation ..........................................................114

Section 5: Fundamental Equations of Atmospheric

Motions ...............................................................120

Section 6: Conceptual Questions ....................................126

Section 7: Sample Problems ...........................................127

Section

Section

Section

Section

Section

Section

Section

Section

1:

2:

3:

4:

5:

6:

7:

8:

Thermodynamics of Cloud Formation ............131

Cloud Microphysics .......................................136

Meteorology of Precipitation .........................143

Precipitation Climatology and Extremes .......153

Precipitation Measurement ............................157

MOD-WET Codes .........................................169

Conceptual Questions ....................................170

iv

Section 1: Learning Objectives ......................................177

Section 2: Surface Energy and Mass Balance .................178

Section 3: Snowpack Characteristics ..............................181

Section 4: Snowpack Accumulation and

Metamorphism ....................................................186

Section 5: Snowmelt ......................................................194

Section 6: Impact of Vegetation .....................................198

Section 7: Snow Climatology .........................................201

Section 8: Snow Measurement ........................................204

Section 9: MOD-WET Codes .........................................210

Section 10: Conceptual Questions ..................................211

Section 11: Sample Problems .........................................212

Infiltration.........................................214

Section 1: Learning Objectives ......................................215

Section 2: Unsaturated Zone Characteristics ..................216

Section 3: Flow in Unsaturated Porous Media ...............222

Section 4: Modeling Unsaturated Zone Flow

Dynamics ............................................................229

Section 5: Infiltration ....................................................232

Section 6: Infiltration Capacity Models ..........................236

Section 7: Modeling Actual Infiltration with the Time

compression Approximation .................................239

Section 8: MOD-WET Codes .........................................245

Section 9: Conceptual Questions ....................................246

Section 10: Sample Problems .........................................247

Section

Section

Section

Section

Section

Section

Section

Section

1:

2:

3:

4:

5:

6:

7:

8:

Basics of Evapotranspiration .........................252

Mass-transfer Model for Evaporation ............254

Transpiration ................................................262

Additional ET Models ...................................269

MOD-WET Codes .........................................275

Conceptual Questions ....................................276

Sample Problems ...........................................278

Section 1: Learning Objectives ......................................282

Section 2: Basic Groundwater Characteristics ................283

Section 3: Development of Groundwater Flow

Equation .............................................................288

Section 4: Groundwater Flow to Pumping

Wells ...................................................................294

Section 5: Superposition of Groundwater

Solutions .............................................................301

Section 6: Conceptual Questions ....................................311

Section 7: Sample Problems ...........................................312

Section 1: Learning Objectives ......................................316

Section 2: Basic Runoff and Streamflow Definitions .......317

Section 3: Runoff Generation Mechanisms .....................320

Section 4: Streamflow Hydrographs ...............................327

Section 5: Rainfall-Runoff Modeling:

Unit Hydrograph .................................................331

Section 6: Rainfall-Runoff Modeling:

Physically-based Models ......................................345

Section 7: Streamflow Routing: Unsteady Flow ..............351

Section 8: Streamflow Routing: Hydrologic Routing .......359

v

Section 10: Conceptual Questions ..................................364

Section 11: Sample Problems .........................................365

Model ................................................368

Section 2: Development of a Distributed Watershed Model

Using MOD-WET ...............................................370

Section 3: Numerical Implementation of the MOD-WET

Model ..................................................................378

Section 4: Example MOD-WET Model Applications ......384

Section 5: Sensitivity of Hydrograph Response to

Watershed Characteristics ...................................398

Section 6: MOD-WET Codes .........................................402

Section 7: Conceptual Questions ....................................403

Section 8: Sample Problems ...........................................404

Chapter 13: References .................................410

vi

Chapter 1

The

Hydrologic

Cycle

S ECTION 1

Learning Objectives

hydrologic analysis

By the time you finish this chapter you should be able to:

1. Provide a basic definition of hydrology

2. List some of the key motivations for studying hydrology

3. Describe the primary reservoirs in the global hydrologic

cycle and their relative sizes

4. Describe the primary water fluxes connecting the

reservoirs in the global hydrologic cycle

5. Describe and dierentiate the unique properties of water

relevant to hydrology

6. Convert between mass, volume, and energy fluxes and flux

densities

7. Write down and apply the mass balance equation for a

particular control volume

8. Identify the average rate of the global hydrologic cycle and

the corresponding average residence times of water in

dierent global hydrological reservoirs

9. Define a watershed and explain its relevance to hydrology

S ECTION 2

Motivation

Before beginning our discussion of hydrology we should

define what it is and why its study is important. Simply put,

hydrology is the study of water. In particular, hydrologic

science is a branch of geoscience that aims to diagnose and

predict: 1) the spatial and temporal characteristics of water in

its various storage reservoirs (terrestrial, atmospheric,

oceanic) and 2) the corresponding fluxes of water between

these reservoirs.

There are many motivations for studying hydrology. The

fundamental motivation is that water is required for life,

making it of paramount societal importance. While the overall

amount of water is fixed, population is increasing and

therefore having an understanding of water and its storage

and movement is key to our survival and will likely dictate

how and where we will live in the future.

There is also a significant scientific motivation for

studying water because it plays a key role in the Earth system

as a whole, including weather and climate processes,

landscape evolution, and biogeochemical processes. For

example, in terms of climate, we would like to know how and

why water varies from one location to another. A relevant

example in terms of annual average precipitation distribution

over California is shown in Figure 1.1. The map shows clear

gradients in precipitation from North to South as well as a

Sierra Nevada). Understanding how and why this variability

exists will be a key component of this course.

Significant connections also exist between water and

engineering due to the need to design water resources systems

(both for water supply and hazard mitigation) to manage and

allocate water resources. A map of population distribution in

California is shown in Figure 1.2. It is clear from the map that

there is a distinct mismatch between the areas of highest

precipitation and highest population. For example, Los

Angeles receives approximately 15 inches of precipitation per

year (Figure 1.1), which amounts to approximately 90

gallons/day/person. The average user in Los Angeles however

requires approximately 200 gallons/day, an amount that

cannot be met by local supply. Beyond urban water use, a

significant amount of water is used for agricultural irrigation,

much of which occurs in some of the areas of lowest

precipitation in the state (i.e. the Central Valley and the

Imperial Valley in the southeastern corner of the state). Such

mismatches in distribution of water availability and use is not

uncommon throughout the world and necessitates a significant

amount of water resources engineering to move water from

where it is plentiful to where it is needed.

Finally, the need for water and its scarcity implies

economic value, hence making water of high economic interest.

In fact, much of the development of the Western U.S. has

been and will be dictated by water (e.g. Reisner, 1993,

Hundley, 2001, Carle, 2004, Green, 2007). Questions like who

has the right to water and whether it should be treated like

9

F IGURE 1.1 Map of annual average precipitation over California (from www.ocs.orst.edu/prism).

hugely important.

The focus on this course will be on the basic physical

understanding of processes related to hydrology as a basis for

ultimately engaging the issues and problems described above.

10

used throughout the book. The majority of the equations used

will be physically based rather than empirical. Physically

based equations are derived from fundamental physical

equations and are therefore dimensionally consistent (and

most commonly use SI units). Empirically based equations are

not derived from physics, but instead fitted to experimental

data. As such, they may use and require that inputs be in

particular units and provide answers in prescribed units.

When empirical equations are presented throughout the book,

the necessary units for inputs and outputs are described

explicitly. For physically based equations, units are typically

not explicitly mentioned because they can consist of any

dimensionally consistent set.

11

S ECTION 3

A useful way to conceptualize hydrology is via the notion

of the hydrologic cycle as shown in Figure 1.3 and Movie 1.1.

One can envision this cycle occurring across spatial scales

from local to global and across all time scales. Some of the

key hydrologic reservoirs include: the atmosphere, soil water

(i.e. near-surface in the unsaturated soil zone and in deeper

cryosphere (including seasonal snowpacks, glaciers, icecaps),

the biosphere (e.g. water stored in vegetation), and the

oceans. Across all reservoirs, water can be stored in any of its

three phases (liquid water, solid ice, and water vapor). For

example, in the atmosphere, water can exist in all three

phases, while the cryosphere consists mostly of solid ice and

soil and surface water is primarily liquid. Table 1.1 shows

estimates of the volume of water stored in the key reservoirs

in the global system. Note that these are very rough estimates

and dierent cited sources will yield dierent estimates. The

numbers are meant to illustrate the order of magnitude of

each reservoir. The ocean is by far the largest of the reservoirs

and contains saline water. The next biggest reservoir is the ice

caps and glaciers which contain mostly bound-up (albeit

increasingly changing) fresh water in frozen form. For the

12

GLOBAL HYDROLOGIC RESERVOIRS (B RAS , 1990).

RESERVOIR

Oceans

VOLUME

(km3)

% TOTAL WATER

1,322,000,000

97.2

29,199,700

2.1

Groundwater (near-surface)

4,171,400

0.31

130,700

0.017

Soil Moisture

66,700

0.005

Atmosphere

12,900

0.0009

the largest. The relatively small fraction of water stored in

lakes and rivers, soil moisture, the atmosphere, and biosphere

misrepresents their importance as they tend to be the most

dynamic parts of the hydrologic cycle as will be described in

more detail below.

Water moves between these various reservoirs via fluxes.

Some of the key hydrologic fluxes include: precipitation (either

in liquid or solid form), evaporation and transpiration

(together referred to as evapotranspiration), infiltration,

recharge, and runo. Precipitation and evapotranspiration are

the key fluxes between the atmosphere and surface (land and

oceans). Precipitation may accumulate when it falls as snow

while rainfall is partitioned at the surface into infiltration and

surface runo. Percolation of water through the unsaturated

soil zone recharges groundwater aquifers which ultimately

feeds surface water bodies via lateral flow and runo. The

atmospheric water is replenished via evaporation from the soil

and open water surfaces and transpiration from vegetation.

Fluxes and storage are directly linked via mass balance as

described in more detail below.

A key aspect of the hydrologic cycle is the fact that it is

driven by energy inputs (primarily from the sun; Figure 1.3).

At the global scale, the system is essentially closed with

respect to water; negligible water is entering or leaving the

system. In other words, there is no external forcing in terms of

a water flux. Systems with no external forcing will generally

eventually come to an equilibrium state. So what makes the

hydrologic cycle so dynamic? The solar radiative energy input,

which is external to the system, drives the hydrologic cycle.

Averaged over the globe, 342 W m-2 of solar radiative energy

is being continuously input to the system at the top of the

atmosphere. This energy input must be dissipated, and this is

done, to a large extent, via the hydrologic cycle. Due to this

fact, the study of hydrology is not isolated to the study of

water storage and movement, but also must often include

study of energy storage and movements.

13

S ECTION 4

Many of the reasons for the importance of water in the

Earth system (and for its necessity in life) have to do directly

with its unique properties. Some of the key properties relevant

to hydrology are discussed in more detail below.

The key properties of water are ultimately a function of

its molecular structure, which consists of two hydrogen atoms

and one oxygen atom (i.e. H2O). In particular, a H2O molecule

is polar in nature where the hydrogen side of the molecule

has a positive charge and the oxygen side has a negative

charge (Figure 1.4). The polarity of the molecule controls how

water molecules arrange themselves in liquid and ice form,

where the positive end of one molecule is attracted to the

negative end of another molecule via so-called hydrogen

bonds. The arrangement of molecules determines the density

of water which for liquid water is approximately 1000 kg m-3

(with a slight variation with temperature as shown in Table

1.2) and for ice is 917 kg m-3.

The attraction from these bonds leads water to have a

high viscosity and surface tension among other unique

properties. Figure 1.5 shows the thermodynamic phase

diagram for pure water, which is simply a plot showing how

regions of pressure-temperature space correspond to the

particular phase of water. The curves represent equilibrium

conditions where two water phases can coexist and the

polarity (from bioweb.uwlax.edu/bio203/2010/olson_moll/

polarwatermoleculeGOOD.jpg).

equilibrium curve between solid and liquid represents melting

(or fusion), the curve between liquid and vapor represents

vaporization (or condensation) and the curve between solid

and vapor represents sublimation (or deposition). Of

particular relevance is that the pressure and temperature

conditions for Earth on the phase diagram are located in a

region that is near boundaries between all three phases, and

in fact phase changes on Earth are a common occurrence. For

context, conditions on most other planets in the solar system

have pressure and temperature conditions that are not

14

A FUNCTION OF T EMPERATURE A BOVE F REEZING

function of pressure and temperature (from

msduncanchem.com/Unit_11/phase_diagrams_ws_files/image001.gif).

present). As described further below, phase changes for water

are associated with considerable energy consumption/release.

This is one of the primary reasons why water and the

hydrologic cycle is of primary importance in the climate

system.

Of particular importance with respect to climate on

Earth are the latent heat and thermal heat capacity

properties of water. The specific heat capacity of a substance

is the amount of energy required to raise a given mass of the

substance by 1 degree. For water, the specific heat capacity

(cp) at T=0C is 4216 J kg-1 K-1. Like many properties of

SPECIFIC HEAT

TEMPERATURE

DENSITY

(C)

(kg m-3)

999.87

4216

15

999.13

4184

30

995.67

4177

CAPACITY

(J kg-1 K-1)

This is the highest specific heat capacity of any known

substance (Mays, 2005). So why is this property so important

to climate on Earth? The primary eect is one of buering

temperature changes. Much of the solar energy entering the

top of the Earths atmosphere reaches the surface, a

significant fraction of which is covered by water. The high

heat capacity of water means that much of this energy can be

absorbed with relatively small temperature changes. A planet

without water would warm much more significantly for the

same energy input. This eect can also be seen in regional

climate patterns. Coastal areas near large bodies of water

generally have a more temperate climate (i.e. relatively small

temperature variations) compared to those inland due to the

buering capacity of the water body. In another example, the

human body takes advantage of the high heat capacity of

15

range needed for healthy functioning.

Another key set of properties of water are the so-called

latent heats associated with phase transformation. While heat

capacity is the energy required to change the temperature of a

given substance (i.e. liquid water), the latent heats are the

energy associated with a constant temperature (isothermal)

phase change. The latent heat of vaporization (Lv) is the

energy consumed in transforming liquid water to water vapor

(or released in converting vapor to liquid) and has a value (at

T = 0C) of Lv = 2.5106 J kg-1. This property has a slight

variation with temperature (e.g. equals 2.25 x 106 J kg-1 at

100C), but for most applications we can use this nominal

value. The latent heat of fusion (Lf) is the energy consumed in

transforming solid water (ice) to liquid water (or released in

converting liquid to ice) and has a nominal value of Lf = 3.34

105 J kg-1. Note that this is almost an order of magnitude

less than the latent heat of vaporization. The latent heat of

sublimation (Ls) is the energy consumed in transforming ice to

water vapor (or released in converting vapor to solid) and has

a nominal value of Ls = 2.85106 J kg-1. The large amounts of

energy required to break the hydrogen bonds between water

molecules make these properties very high compared to other

substances. The fact that these latent heats are so large for

water, coupled with the fact that phase transformations are

quite common in the Earth system, result in significant energy

sources and sinks in the hydrologic cycle. Specifically, latent

heating is critical in energy transfer between the surface and

atmosphere and in global heat transport.

E XAMPLE 1.4.1

How much energy would be released if all of the

atmospheric water vapor were condensed?

According to Table 1.1, the volume of water in the

atmosphere is approximately equal to 12,900 km3. The

equivalent amount of mass (using a density of water of

1000 kg/m3) is then given by:

(1000)3 m 3

Mass = (12,900 km )(1000 kg m )

1 km 3

= 1.29 1016 kg

3

-3

multiplying the mass by the latent heat of vaporization

(Lv). Hence the amount of energy is:

= 3.225 10 22 J

This is a large amount of energy. Despite the atmosphere

only containing relatively little water compared to

other reservoirs, this amounts to enough energy to power

over 1 trillion 100 W light bulbs for over 10 years! The

key point is that the water in the atmosphere is a

significant potential latent heat source (or sink) when

phase changes occur. This energy, which is due to the

high latent heat of water, is one of the primary

mechanisms for energy transport in the atmosphere.

16

E XAMPLE 1.4.2

If the energy released in the previous example

were absorbed by the global oceans, how much of

a temperature change would there be?

The specific heat capacity of a substance dictates how its

temperature will change (per unit mass) given an energy

input. According to Table 1.1, the volume of water in the

global oceans is approximately equal to 1,322,000,000

km3. The equivalent amount of mass (using a nominal

density of water of 1000 kg/m3) is then given by:

(1000)3 m 3

Mass = (1,322, 000, 000 km )(1000 kg m )

1 km 3

= 1.322 10 21 kg

3

-3

energy input would then be:

Temperature change =

(3.225 10 22 J)/(1.322 10 23 kg)/(4216 J kg -1K-1 )

= 5.8 10 5 K

Due to the large heat capacity of the ocean (and its large

mass) there would be an imperceptible change in

temperature due to this large energy input. This is

illustrative of the large buering capacity of water.

17

S ECTION 5

Units

The key starting point of most hydrologic analyses

involve application of mass balance. A mass balance equation

for any system (as well as many other conservation laws) can

be derived using Reynolds transport theorem (Mays, 2005).

The theorem starts with the definition of a control volume in

space defined by a control surface (Figure 1.6). Implicit in any

mass balance application is a pre-specified control volume;

without one the mass balance is not meaningful.

Properties of the fluid are denoted as either extensive or

intensive. Extensive properties are those that are in some way

related to the total mass of the system, including mass (m),

momentum (mV), and energy (E). Intensive properties are

generally normalized by mass (e.g., momentum per unit mass,

which is simply velocity, energy per unit mass, etc.). In the

control volume approach, we can represent an extensive

property as B and an intensive property as B (dB/dm). The

general control volume equation can be expressed as (Mays,

2005):

dB d

=

B dV + CS BV dA

dt

dt CV

(1.5.1)

dB

total rate of change of extensive property

dt

d

of change of extensive property in control

B dV rate

dt CV

volume (where is density of fluid and dV is a

differential volume)

rate of outflow of extensive property across

BV dA netcontrol

surface (where V is velocity and dA

CS

across the control surface (adapted from Mays, 2005).

The mass balance (or continuity) equation is derived

from the Reynolds transport theorem by setting B to mass

(making B = 1) and noting that for mass conservation the

left-hand-side term equals zero, which yields:

d

dM

dV

=

= V dA

dt CV

dt

CS

(1.5.2)

18

the control volume (mass/time) is exactly balanced by the net

rate of mass outflow across the control surface. Several

simplifying assumptions can be made to Equation (1.5.2),

including constant density (often appropriate in the case of

liquid water flow/storage problems) in which case:

d

dV = CS V dA

dt CV

(1.5.3)

kg 1

m3

=

;

s

w

s

dS

= I i Oi

dt

i

i

(1.5.4)

sum of volumetric flux inflows (Ii) minus the sum of

volumetric flux outflows (Oi) across the control surface of the

control volume. A key point is that only fluxes across the

control surface need be considered in the mass balance

equation. Internal fluxes do not contribute to mass/volume

storage changes. This fact is often used in the construction of

a control volume to eliminate fluxes that are unknown by

making them internal fluxes. Hence for the equation to be

meaningful, a control volume must be explicitly defined.

Another simplified case is that of steady-state in which case

the storage term is equal to zero, yielding:

I = O

i

In the context of mass-balance (or other) applications,

several forms of fluxes are used and it is important to be able

to dierentiate between them and the units associated with

them. Mass fluxes (i.e. used in Equation (1.5.2)) have units of

mass/time (e.g., kg s-1). Volume fluxes (i.e. used in Equation

(1.5.4)) have units of volume/time (e.g., m3 s-1). To convert

between the two, the density of the fluid can be used, i.e. for

water:

(1.5.5)

w = 1000 kg m 3

either a mass or volumetric flux normalized by an appropriate

cross-sectional area across which the flux is occurring, i.e.

kg 1

kg

2

s A

ms

m3 1

m

mm m

Volume:

(or

,

, etc.)

s

A

s

d

y

Mass:

volume flux density can be obtained by dividing by the

density of water. The volume flux density is a common way of

expressing fluxes in hydrology. For example, the annual

average rainfall in Los Angeles is 15 inches/year, which is

implicit over a given area. To get the actual volume flux

would require multiplying this flux density by the surface area

of Los Angeles over which the flux density occurs.

19

As will be discussed in much more detail later, and has

been alluded to above, water and energy fluxes are often

directly connected. The most relevant example is that the

evaporation flux is tied directly to a phase change energy flux.

For example, the latent heat flux associated with phase

change is simply the mass flux density multiplied by the latent

heat of vaporization:

J kg

= Wm 2

2

kg m s

where the units of W m-2 are the most commonly used for

energy fluxes (actually flux densities) in hydrology.

be lined with concrete to prevent any drainage or

seepage from the bottom. Using a water balance,

what volume (on average) of groundwater (in

cubic meters) must be added to the lake each

year to keep the pond at a steady-state level?

The first step to any mass balance is the definition of a

control volume. For this problem the control volume and

relevant fluxes are shown below:

E XAMPLE 1.5.1

A golf course has requested a permit to install a

40,000 ft2 pond to enhance the beauty of its

facilities. It is hypothesized that due to high

evaporation rates, the water in the pond will

have to be supplemented with pumped

groundwater. There is a small creek that

discharges an average of 0.0005 m3/s into the

pond. The outlet valve from the pond releases an

average rate of 0.0003 m3/s to keep the pond

from getting stagnant. Precipitation on the pond

is 260 mm/year, and the annual evaporation is

estimated to be 105 inches/year. The pond will

where the mass balance for the pond can be written as:

dS pond

dt

storage change would be zero so that:

20

Next, the fluxes must be converted to proper and

consistent units. Converting everything to SI units, the

area of the pond is given by:

2

Apond

! 1m $

2

2

= 40000 ft #

& = 3718 m

" 3.28 ft %

mm 1 m

3718 m 2 = 967 m 3 /y

y 1000 mm

in 2.54 cm 1 m

E = 105

3718 m 2 = 9916 m 3 /y

y 1 in 100 cm

P = 260

Qout

m3

Qin = (0.0003 0.0005)

s

(3600 24 365) s

= 6307 m 3 /y

1y

then given by:

21

S ECTION 6

and Average Mass Balance

To begin to understand timescales of hydrologic fluxes

and mass balance it is instructive to start at the global scale.

If we consider a control volume covering the entire surface of

the globe (Figure 1.7), the relevant fluxes across the control

surface are the precipitation and evaporation fluxes over both

land and ocean. Note that the runo between land and ocean

is an internal flux and therefore not relevant to the mass

balance of the control volume we have chosen. The

instantaneous global mass (or volume) balance can then be

written as:

dS

= Pland Eland + Pocean Eocean

dt

(1.6.1)

ocean and land water reservoirs and consistent units must be

used (either in terms of mass or volume). Given the above

equation, if all instantaneous fluxes are known, then the

storage change can be determined. Alternatively, if the storage

change is known and all fluxes but one are known, the

equation can be used to solve for the unknown flux as a

residual.

reservoir storage over land and ocean. Storages are indicated

by boxes (in units of 103 km3) and fluxes are indicated by arrows (in units of 103 km3/year) (adapted from U.S. National Research

Council, 1991; Mays, 2005).

over large scales). Therefore to simplify hydrologic analysis we

often take the long-term average of the above mass balance

equation, where we can use the time-averaging operator:

X =

1

T

t +T

X dt

(1.6.2)

equation can be applied to each term in the mass balance

22

equation:

dS

= Pland Eland + Pocean Eocean

dt

(1.6.3)

enough, can we say anything about any of these terms? Over

the long-term we can reasonably say that the (average)

storage change should be close to zero or at least much

smaller than the average fluxes. This implicitly assumes some

stationarity in the system (i.e. it is steady-state in the longterm). In general, the longer the averaging period the more

accurate the assumption will be. At a minimum it should be

at least a full year to average over the seasonal cycle (i.e. most

regions have a wet season where water storage is increasing

and dry season where water stores are depleted). Anything

less would be expected to violate the steady-state assumption.

Taking the long-term average results in:

dS

0 = Pland Eland + Pocean Eocean = Pglobal E global

dt

(1.6.4)

Pglobal = E global

(1.6.5)

balance, water would either be accumulating over the longterm in the atmosphere (if evaporation exceeded

precipitation) or in the land/ocean (if precipitation exceeded

evaporation). From data it is estimated that:

Pglobal 1 m yr -1 = E global

(i.e. normalized over the surface of the Earth). Expressed as a

volumetric flux this would equal 1415 km3 day-1.

We can think of the above flux as the average global rate

of the hydrologic cycle. In other words this is the average

amount of water moving through the various hydrologic

reservoirs. Note that the instantaneous fluxes at any given

point and time may be very dierent than this (as will be

discussed later). Given this rate we can estimate average

residence time in the various reservoirs using the relationship:

Residence Time =

Volume of reservoir

Average volumetric flux rate

(1.6.6)

given reservoir. Given the estimates of reservoir volumes

(shown in Table 1.3), the residence times can be estimated

and are shown in Table 1.3. These residence times are

indicative of how dynamic the dierent reservoirs are. For

example, a molecule of water will stay in the atmosphere for 9

days on average before precipitating out, while a molecule of

water will spend 8 years on average flowing through

groundwater. So while the atmosphere and soil moisture

reservoirs are among the smallest, they are the most dynamic

based on their residence times and contribute to much of the

variability in the system.

It is very important to keep in mind that the above

numbers are global long-term averages. Significant variability

exists in most hydrologic fluxes in both space and time. In

23

PRIMARY GLOBAL HYDROLOGIC RESERVOIRS . T HESE

VALUES ASSUME A GLOBAL AVERAGE HYDROLOGIC

RATE OF 1 METER / YEAR (1415 km 3 /day)

RESERVOIR

Oceans

VOLUME

(km3)

RESIDENCE

TIME

1,322,000,000

2500 years

29,199,700

Groundwater (near-surface)

4,171,400

8 years

130,700

88 days

Soil Moisture

66,700

47 days

Atmosphere

12,900

9 days

the design of water systems. Some interesting examples to

illustrate spatial variability include consideration of the

driest and wettest places on Earth. For the purposes of

illustration we can compare long-term average precipitation as

a representative measure of the local hydrology. For example,

Los Angeles receives an average of approximately 15 inches

(38 cm) of rainfall per year making it a relatively dry place.

However the driest place on Earth is the Atacama Desert in

Chile (Figure 1.8). In parts of the Atacama there has never

been recorded rainfall, and over the whole desert, rainfall

averages less than 1 mm/year! The lack of water makes for a

particularly stark landscape with little to no life to the point

that it is often compared to the surface of Mars (Figure 1.9).

place on Earth).

considered to be Cherrapunji, India (Figure 1.10), which

receives an annual average rainfall of 11.1 m/year. Moreover,

due to its monsoon climate, most of this rainfall occurs within

the 3-6 month rainy season. Keeping in mind this is the longterm average, another interesting example is the maximum

observed annual rainfall in Cherrapunji, which was 26.5

meters!

These two examples provide interesting ends of the

hydrologic spectrum, where in one water is extremely scarce,

24

F IGURE 1.9 Illustrative photo of the arid terrain of the Atacama desert (from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Paranal_360-degree_

Panoramic.jpg).

plentiful causing extreme flooding problems. Beyond these two

examples of extreme spatial variability in hydrology, it is

important to keep in mind the temporal variability. For

example, most of the 38 cm (15 in.) of annual average rainfall

in Los Angeles is isolated to the winter season (DecemberJanuary-February-March), which is in contrast to

Cherrapunji, which receives almost all of its rainfall during the

Summer. In doing any hydrologic analysis, it is important to

clearly define the relevant spatial and temporal scales of

interest.

place on Earth).

25

S ECTION 7

The last section used a global control volume to gain

some insight into long-term hydrologic fluxes at large scales

and the corresponding residence times in key hydrologic

reservoirs. In many hydrological analyses we are instead

interested in some local or regional scale. The question then

becomes: How do we choose an appropriate control volume for

such analyses? While any control volume can be chosen, one

that is physically-meaningful involves the concept of a

watershed (or catchment or river basin). The watershed is in

recognition of the fact that topographic slopes are the primary

drivers of many (especially surface) fluxes. Physically

speaking, water is expected to flow down hill into a nearby

stream channel where that water will then flow downstream

through the river network. Smaller tributary streams merge

with other streams forming larger and larger streams that will

ultimately tend to flow into the ocean or other large water

bodies. The river network is simply the organization of

drainage patterns over the landscape.

The definition of a watershed starts with the choice of a

point in space that coincides with a location on a particular

river network, typically referred to as the watershed outlet.

The outlet may be the terminal outlet (i.e. to an ocean or

other large body of water) or some location on the river

upstream from the terminal outlet (perhaps where a stream

(upstream) that would ultimately route water to the defined

outlet point. If one has topographic (i.e. elevation) maps, the

watershed can be defined using a relatively simple set of rules.

This process is generally referred to as watershed delineation

and traditionally was done by hand using hard-copy

topographic maps. Now it is more commonly done in an

automated way using digital representations of topography

(discussed in more detail below). Watersheds come in all

shapes and sizes and any given watershed is made up of many

smaller watersheds (sub-watersheds or sub-basins). Examples

of some of the large watersheds covering the continental U.S.

are shown in Figure 1.11. Note that the full Mississippi River

basin covers approximately 50% of the land area of the

(from maps.howstuffworks.com/united-states-watersheds-map.htm).

26

the peak of the Rocky Mountains separates the watersheds

that drain to the Pacific Ocean or Gulf of California vs. those

that drain to the Atlantic Ocean or Gulf of Mexico. Of

particular relevance to California are the primary basins

draining the Sierra Nevada (Figure 1.12) and the Colorado

River (Figure 1.13), both of which provide the major water

supply to California. The western Sierra Nevada basins drain

into a large series of dams controlled by the California

Department of Water Resources (CADWR), which provides a

major supply of water to California, while two basins on the

eastern side of the Southern Sierra Nevada (Mono and Owens)

supply the Los Angeles Aqueduct. Water from the Colorado

River is conveyed via the Colorado River Aqueduct to

Southern California (Figure 1.14).

Digital topographic information can be used to

automatically delineate a watershed. These digital

representations are most commonly referred to as digital

elevation models (DEMs), where a map of elevation is

provided on a regular grid at some nominal spatial resolution.

Some DEMs are simply digitized versions of old topographic

maps and are available from agencies like the USGS (http://

eros.usgs.gov/#/Guides/dem), while others have been

developed from satellite-based algorithms (i.e. the SRTM

[http://www2.jpl.nasa.gov/srtm/] and ASTER [http://

asterweb.jpl.nasa.gov/gdem.asp] products). Based on these

various sources of data, much of the topography of the globe

is now available at spatial resolutions of less than 100 meters.

A DEM can be thought of as simply an array of elevation

for water supply to California.

27

often called raster data). From the gridded data and a

specified outlet coordinate, one can derive the upstream pixels

that will ultimately flow to the specified outlet. A MATLAB

code for doing such watershed delineation is included in the

Modular Distributed Watershed Educational Toolbox (MODWET) provided as part of the textbook. The specific code is

called: watershed_area_and_stream_delineation.

Geographic Information System (GIS) software (e.g. ArcGIS)

also generally have built-in functions for watershed analysis.

The primary reason a watershed is a convenient control

volume is the fact that by construct it has one lateral flux (i.e.

runo at the outlet), where it is commonly assumed that there

is negligible groundwater flow between watersheds. The

instantaneous mass balance applied to a watershed control

volume is given by:

dS

= I i Oi = P E Q

dt

i

i

(1.7.1)

snow, soil moisture, groundwater), P is the precipitation, E is

the evaporation and Q is the streamflow (runo at the outlet).

As can be done for any mass balance, if we take the long-term

average, this yields:

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colorado_River).

dS

0 = P E Q

dt

(1.7.2)

so that over the long-term the average basin yield (i.e. the

28

by:

Q = P E

(1.7.3)

estimate of basin yield assuming long-term average

precipitation and evaporation are known. Other fluxes

discussed previously (i.e. infiltration, percolation, groundwater

flow, etc.) are internal fluxes when the entire watershed is

used as a control volume and therefore do not contribute to

the mass balance in this context.

It is important to keep in mind that the basin yield

shown in Equation (1.7.3) provides an estimate of the total

amount of available local water. In many regions, California

chief among them, local water supply is not enough to meet

local demand. In such instances water must be imported from

other watersheds. This is precisely what is done in California

where the Sierra Nevada (Figure 1.12) and Colorado River

(Figure 1.13) yield is conveyed to populated and agricultural

areas via a complex series of water resource systems. Figure

1.14 illustrates this system, where many dams are used (in

both the western Sierra Nevada and along the Colorado

River) to store water and aqueducts are used to convey water

from one location to the next. As seen in Figure 1.14,

Southern California gets water via the California, Colorado

River, and Los Angeles Aqueducts.

E XAMPLE 1.7.1

water system (from

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:California_water_system.jpg).

reservoir at the outlet of a watershed. The

average annual rainfall for the region is 1.0 m y-1.

29

open-water evaporation rate of 1.1 mm d-1. The

river system brings an average inflow of 1.75 m3

s-1 into the reservoir.

constant. The storage volume can be expressed as

the(constant) area multiplied by the reservoir height.

The equation can then be written as:

a depth of 3 m if no water is released through

the dam gates during the filling period? Assume

that the reservoir has an approximately constant

surface area of 10,000 hectares (1 ha = 10,000

m2).

b) Once the reservoir is filled, what is the

average reservoir release (in m3 s-1) that can be

made that will maintain the given reservoir level

at steady-state?

The relevant control volume for this problem is the

reservoir itself. Assuming no groundwater seepage into or

out of the reservoir, the mass balance equation can be

written as:

dS

= P E +Q

dt

where the storage and fluxes (precipitation, evaporation,

and inflow respectively) can be expressed in terms of

dh

= P E +Q

dt

where the fluxes on the right-hand-side can be written in

terms of volume flux densities, which are just the volume

fluxes per unit area:

P = 1.0 m y -1

! 1 m $ ! 365 d $

-1

E = 1.1 mm d #

&#

& = 0.4 m yr

" 1000 mm % " 1 y %

!

$ ! 365 d $ ! 1 $

3

-1 86400 s

-1

Q = 1.75 m s #

&#

& # 8 & = 0.55 m yr

" 1 d % " 1 y % " 10 m %

-1

by:

dh

= (1.0 0.4 + 0.55) m y -1 = 1.05 m y -1

dt

Based on this rate, with no outflows, the reservoir will

take 2.9 years to fill up to a depth of 3 meters.

If there is a reservoir release (Qout) the (steady-state)

30

mass balance equation changes to:

dS

= P E +Q Qout = 0

dt

Qout = P E +Q = 1.05 m y -1

which, not surprisingly, is the same as the filling rate if

there is no outflow. The above flux can be converted

back to volumetric flux units by multiplying by the

reservoir area, which yields: Qout = 3.3 m3 s-1.

In practice, most reservoirs are primarily responsible for

smoothing out natural variability so that in wet years

the reservoir may add storage and in dry years storage

may be depleted. The size of the reservoir is a key design

variable that needs to be large enough to meet demands

or attenuate floods with a specified reliability criteria.

Note that in this simple example the reservoir area is

constant, whereas in most cases, the area will increase as

the reservoir fills.

31

S ECTION 8

MOD-WET Codes

Throughout the course, several of the equations and/or

concepts that can be applied numerically are implemented for

student use in MATLAB code. Together these functions are

referred to as the Modular Distributed Watershed

Educational Toolbox (MOD-WET). The MOD-WET codes

are available as a companion to the book and are provided to

help cement basic applied concepts for students. They are

generally implemented as functions (i.e. with inputs/outputs)

rather than scripts. This makes them modular in structure so

they can be used in conjunction with other MOD-WET codes

or additional codes you develop on your own. They are listed

at the end of each chapter where the relevant concepts are

introduced. The actual functions provide documentation

about the inputs/outputs/units and other details. The user

should carefully examine each code before applying it so that

you are aware of the details behind the calculations.

Relevant functions based on concepts introduced in this

chapter include:

Watershed delineation code:

watershed_area_and_stream_delineation.m

32

S ECTION 9

Conceptual Questions

evaporation to convert between a mass flux density and an

energy flux density?

10. What are the SI units of an energy flux density?

2. Name at least four hydrologic fluxes.

3. Is water a polar or non-polar molecule? Explain.

4. How does one convert between a volumetric flux and a

volumetric flux density? What are the typical units of each

type of flux?

5. What is the largest global water reservoir? What is the

largest freshwater global reservoir? It it an active or

relatively static component of the hydrologic cycle? What is

the largest active freshwater reservoir in the global system?

6. What is the nominal density of liquid water? What is the

nominal density of ice? Which is bigger? What is the

implication for a freezing lake?

7. Are the specific heat capacity and latent heats for water

generally large or small compared to other substances?

What are some of the implications of this?

balance problem, what generally are the relevant hydrologic

fluxes in the mass balance?

12. If you wanted to estimate the long-term water yield of a

basin using mass balance, what assumption is often

invoked?

13. What is the average rate of the global hydrologic cycle (in

meters/year)? How does that compare to the driest and

wettest places on Earth?

14. What is the average residence time of water in the global

atmosphere? How does it compare to the residence time in

the groundwater system?

15. Describe what a watershed is. What is a sub-watershed?

16. What is a DEM?

volumetric flux density? a mass flux density?

33

S ECTION 10

Sample Problems

Problem 1.1. Based on this chapter and background

reading references (e.g the chapter Tapping into a Planetary

Cycle from the book Introduction to Water in California

[Carle, 2004]) answer the following questions:

a) Name Earths hydrologic reservoirs where the great water

wheel takes place? What powers the water cycle (i.e. what is

the energy input that drives the hydrologic cycle)? What

fraction of the Earths freshwater is considered active and

which hydrologic reservoirs are associated with this water?

What fluxes transport water through the hydrologic cycle and

connect one reservoir to another?

b) What is the average annual precipitation rate in Los

Angeles, CA? In Eureka, CA? What period of the year does

California receive most of its precipitation? Which direction

do winds typically blow in California? How are these winds

related to the dry region of the Mojave Desert?

c) Why is the Sierra Nevada snowpack considered a water

reservoir? What technique has been used by water supply

planners to forecast water availability during spring-summer?

d) What technique has been used by scientists to reconstruct

periods of drought or wet years when a historic rainfall record

is not available? Using this method, experts have been able to

How long did these periods last? How does Californias

wetness in the 20th century compare with this longer

historical record?

Problem 1.2. Hydrologists throughout the world use a

variety of units. Although SI units are fairly universal, it is

useful to be familiar with other common unit conventions.

The following exercises should help achieve this familiarity.

a) The concept of volumetric fluxes is commonly expressed in

terms of a volume per unit area (flux density), or a depth.

This is generally the case in measuring rainfall or evaporation

over a known area, like a river basin, a lake, or a reservoir.

Los Angeles receives approximately 15 inches of rainfall per

year. How many meters of rainfall does Los Angeles receive

each year? How does this compare to a city in Northern

California, such as San Francisco, which receives about 559

mm of rain annually?

b) An acre-foot (AF) is a common unit to measure volumes of

water, such as reservoirs, canals, aqueducts, etc. It is defined

as the volume of water required to cover an acre of land with

a depth of 1 foot of water. The Los Angeles Basin covers an

area of 460 mi2. Using the average rainfall for Los Angeles,

what is the volume of water received over the basin in acre-ft?

In US gallons?

c) Streamflow is a measure of the volume of water per unit

time that passes a given point in a river or stream.

Streamflow is commonly measured in cubic feet per second

34

cfs, if the average discharge is 10,400 cubic meters per second

[m3 s-1]?

d) For water resources planning and management, it is

important to have an estimate of how much water one person

uses in one day. On average, one acre-ft is estimated to serve

the annual domestic needs of approximately six people (i.e.,

1AF/[6 people]/yr). How many gallons of water does one

resident use per year? Per week?

Problem 1.3. The relatively unique properties of water are

among the reasons why it plays such a key role in the Earth's

climate. Among those properties are the ones that relate

energy and water processes. Provide all answers in standard

SI units.

a) Define the dierences (in meaning) of heat capacity of a

substance and latent heat (i.e. of vaporization or fusion) of a

substance. Which one is used in the context of evaporation to

convert between a mass flux density and an energy flux

density?

e) Suppose you are making yourself 0.50 liters of tea but its

temperature is 75C, which is too hot for you to drink. In

order to cool its temperature, you immerse three ice cubes of

the same dimension as the one in part c) in your tea. If the

energy used to melt the ice came from the internal energy (i.e.

temperature) of the tea, what is the lowered temperature of

your tea?

f ) Suppose you do not drink all of the tea, and you leave 50

ml in the cup. How much energy would be required to fully

evaporate the remaining tea?If this energy came from the air

in a room surrounding the cup of tea, how would the air

temperature change, i.e. by what amount and via an increase

ordecrease in air temperature? Assume the room has

dimensions of 5 m x 5 m x 3 m and the air density is 1.2 kg/

m3.

Problem 1.4. The reservoir shown in cross-section below

receives inflow from a river with annual mean discharge Q =

2.55 m3s-1. Observations from a nearby precipitation station

0C?

c) What is the nominal density of liquid water? What is the

nominal density of ice? Which is bigger?

d) Suppose you have a 3 cm x 3 cm x 3 cm ice cube that is

frozen at a temperature of 0C.How much energy input would

be required to melt it?

35

precipitation over the reservoir area of A = 80 km2.

For water planning purposes you need to estimate the losses

from the reservoir via evaporation (E) and leakage (G). There

is a proposal to estimate the losses by performing a chemical

tracer experiment. A harmless chemical tracer that has no

nearby natural sources (i.e. no occurrence in the stream or

large-scale groundwater flow) is mixed within the lake and its

concentration in the seepage water flux (S) below the dam is

measured. The seepage S is the combined leakage from the

reservoir (G) and large-scale lateral groundwater flow (U)

below the reservoir. The concentration of the tracer in the

lake is CL = 50 ppm (where ppm is parts per million, i.e. m3

tracer/million m3 water). The seepage flow is measured to be

1.27 m3 s-1 with a tracer concentration of CS = 10 ppm.

Estimate the two loss terms from the reservoir (in m yr-1)

through consideration of mass balance of water and chemical

tracer in the system. Make sure to clearly identify your

control volume in any mass balance application for the

analysis to be meaningful.

Problem 1.5. A new dam is built to create a municipal

reservoir. The average annual rainfall for the region is 1.7 m

yr-1. Evaporation pans in the area indicate an average

evaporation rate of 2.2 mm day-1. The river system brings an

average inflow of 3.5 m3 s-1 into the reservoir.

a) How long would it take to fill the reservoir to a depth of 10

m if no water is released through the dam gates during the

filling period? Assume that there is negligible groundwater

approximately constant surface area of 10,000 hectares (1 ha

= 10,000 m2).

b) Once the reservoir is filled, what is the average reservoir

release (in m3 s-1) that can be made that will maintain the

given reservoir level?

c) From historical data, it is determined that the worst

drought on record reduced the annual precipitation and

streamflow in the region by approximately 50%. Given a

necessary yield (reservoir release) equal to your answer to part

b), would the reservoir drop below a level of 8 meters in such

a drought year?

Problem 1.6. Annual average data from three large river

basins around the world is given below:

AMAZON

RIVER

(BRAZIL)

YANGTZE

RIVER

(CHINA)

OB RIVER

(RUSSIA)

WATERSHED

AREA (km2)

7,180,000

1,970,000

2,950,000

PRECIPITATION

(mm/yr)

1,777

1,120

563

STREAMFLOW

(m3/s)

190,000

35,000

12,500

for each watershed. Clearly state any assumptions made in

your calculations.

36

river discharge as a fraction of precipitation) in %.

37

Chapter 2

Atmospheric

Thermodynamics

S ECTION 1

Learning Objectives

By the time you finish this chapter you should be able to:

1. List the key constituents of the atmosphere, specifically

including the radiatively active components

density in the atmosphere

9. State the typical lapse rate of temperature in the

troposphere

10. State typical values for air pressure and density near the

surface

2. Write down the ideal gas law (equation of state) for moist

air in terms of air temperature, density, pressure, and

water vapor content

3. Use the ideal gas law to compute the density of air from

the other states

4. Define the concepts of saturated vapor pressure and

saturated specific humidity and how they are dependent

on temperature (i.e. the Clausius-Clapeyron equation)

5. List and define the typical descriptors used to identify the

actual water vapor content of air and be able to convert

between the dierent metrics

6. Describe the dierence between specific humidity or vapor

pressure and saturated specific humidity or saturated vapor

pressure.

7. Use the hydrostatic equation to relate atmospheric

pressure and density as a function of height

39

S ECTION 2

Atmospheric Composition

The atmosphere is a gaseous mixture of several

constituents, some of which are relatively constant, while

others are quite variable. The composition of the atmosphere

is shown in Table 2.1. By volume, the air in the atmosphere is

composed almost entirely of nitrogen and oxygen (together

equaling 99%). These two constituents and many others

(argon, neon, helium, krypton, hydrogen, and nitrous oxide)

represent the vast majority of the atmosphere and are

relatively constant in their concentration. Several components

vary as a result of natural or anthropogenic processes. The

most variable constituent is water vapor, which varies

naturally as a result of the hydrologic cycle. Carbon dioxide

varies both naturally (due to photosynthesis and respiration)

and anthropogenically (due to the burning of fossil fuels). Of

particular importance to climate and the hydrologic cycle are

those gases that are radiatively active (i.e. water vapor,

ozone, methane, carbon dioxide, and to a lesser extent

oxygen).

A radiatively active gas is one whose molecular structure

is such that it absorbs (and emits) radiative energy (this will

be discussed in much more detail in the next chapter).

Radiatively active gases are often referred to as greenhouse

gases. The primary hypothesis for anthropogenic climate

change has to do with the combined facts that 1) humans

S TANDARD A TMOSPHERE IN THE T ROPOSPHERE

GAS

% BY VOLUME

Nitrogen (N2)

78.084

Oxygen (O2)*

20.946

Argon (A)

0.934

0.033

Neon (Ne)

0.00182

Helium (He)

0.000524

Methane (CH4)*

0.00016

Krypton (Kr)

0.0014

Hydrogen (H2)

0.00005

0.000035

Ozone (O3)*

Water (H2O)*

0 - 0.000007

0-4

have added a significant amount of carbon dioxide to the

atmosphere and 2) it is a greenhouse gas. In fact, water vapor

and methane are more radiatively active, but carbon dioxide

gets the most attention because it is the one that is increasing

rapidly due to anthropogenic sources. The vertical profiles of

some of these constituents will be discussed below. The clear

signature of both natural and anthropogenic eects on carbon

dioxide can be seen in measurements. An observatory on

40

anthropogenic source from the burning of fossil fuel. As shown

in Figure 2.1, this source has led to a dramatic increase in

CO2 concentrations of approximately 25% in the last 50 years.

Moreover the trend is not linearly increasing, but accelerating

under present emission conditions. A major topic of ongoing

research is what impact does this significant increase in

carbon dioxide in the atmosphere have on the global climate,

weather patterns, and extremes.

moving average of the long-term trend shown in black (from

esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/webdata/ccgg/trends/co2_data_mlo.png).

of the carbon dioxide concentration (Figure 2.1). Two key

modes of variability are seen in the data. The first is the

natural seasonal variability, where CO2 decreases due to

increased uptake by deciduous plants in the Spring/Summer

season and increases due to respiration as a result of fallen

leaf (and other biomass) decay during the Fall/Winter. This

natural pattern should have some interannual variability, but

is expected to be relatively steady in terms of the long-term

average. The second mode of variability is the clear trend seen

41

S ECTION 3

Atmospheric States

The state of the atmosphere is the set of variables that

can be used to quantitatively describe it. The thermodynamic

states include temperature, pressure, density, and some metric

of water (vapor) concentration. It is important to keep in

mind that the atmosphere is simply a moving fluid (with the

above characteristics varying in space and time) so another

key state variable is the wind speed (which has components in

three orthogonal directions). Knowledge of the state of the

atmosphere at a given location/time will ultimately provide a

mechanism for quantifying many of the water and energy

movements in the atmosphere and between the atmosphere

and land surface. Some key questions that will be addressed in

this and other sections of this chapter include:

1. How are the variables that comprise the thermodynamic

state of the atmosphere related (at a given location)?

2. What metrics for water vapor concentration are used, and

related to some of these metrics, what is the upper limit to

the concentration of water vapor?

3. How do key variables vary with height and what

relationships govern this variation?

To start with the first question, it is worth pointing out

that the atmosphere behaves like an ideal gas (something

an ideal gas is one whose density is relatively low, and the

atmosphere generally satisfies the necessary criteria. In

particular, one could treat each constituent of the atmosphere

(Table 2.1) as an individual ideal gas, i..e.

pi = i RiT

(2.3.1)

Ri gas constant for gas i [J kg -1 K-1 ]

we are primarily interested in the bulk properties of the

atmosphere (not of individual gases). To simplify things, we

generally consider an air parcel in the atmosphere as

essentially a two-component mixture:

Moist Air = Dry Air (N2, O2, ...) + Water Vapor (H2O)

This idea is in recognition of the fact that most of the

constituents of the atmosphere are relatively fixed, especially

when compared to the high variability seen in water vapor.

Given this, the density of moist air is given by:

= d + v

(2.3.2)

refers to (water) vapor. Substituting the ideal gas law

expressions for each of the two components yields:

42

pd

p

p

e

+ v = d +

RdT RvT RdT RvT

(2.3.3)

where pd and pv are the partial pressures of dry air and vapor

respectively, and Rd and Rv are the dry air gas constant (287 J

kg-1 K-1) and the vapor gas constant (461 J kg-1 K-1)

respectively. In many texts related to hydrology, the partial

pressure for water vapor (i.e. vapor pressure) pv is replaced

by e, which is what we will do here. Equation (2.3.3) can be

rearranged noting that the total pressure is equal to the sum

of the two partial pressures (i.e. p = pd + e) to form a more

compact equation of state (i.e. ideal gas law) for moist air:

Rd

p "

e%

1

(1

)

;

=

= 0.622

$

'

RdT #

p&

Rv

(2.3.4)

represents a correction for the presence of vapor. The ratio of

vapor pressure to total pressure (e/p) represents the fraction

of total pressure made up by the partial pressure of the water

vapor molecules. What Equation (2.3.4) also illustrates is that

an air parcel with more water vapor (i.e. higher e/p) will

actually be less dense than a parcel of dry air with the same

temperature and pressure. Without changing the above

equation, we can also define a new quantity called virtual

temperature (Tv) so that we can write:

p = RdTv ; where Tv =

e

1

(1

(2.3.5)

virtual temperature definition. While virtual temperature can

be thought of simply as a definition, if one wishes to attach a

physical meaning to it, it denotes the temperature a parcel of

dry air would have to be at to have the same density as one

with a vapor pressure e.

As will be discussed in more detail below, the total

pressure of the atmosphere varies greatly with height, but a

typical value near the surface (at sea level) is 100,000 Pa or

1000 mb. Also note that the units required in the above

equations must be in SI.

E XAMPLE 2.3.1

What is the density of moist air at a pressure of

1000 mb, air temperature of 25C, and vapor

pressure of 25 mb? How does the density change

as a function of vapor pressure?

The virtual temperature under these conditions is:

Tv =

"

e%

$1 (1 ) '

p&

#

= 300.99 K

(25 + 273.15) K

"

2500 Pa %

$1 (1 0.622)

'

100000 Pa &

#

43

p

100000 Pa

=

= 1.16 kg m -3

-1

-1

RdTv (287 J kg K )(300.99 K)

functions: virtual_temperature.m and air_density.m.

Note that this moist air density is about three orders of

magnitude smaller than the density of water. Nearsurface air density is typically between 1 and 1.2 kg m-3.

Based on the equation it is clear that an increase in

humidity (i.e. vapor pressure) will actually decrease the

density of air. Hence moister air will generally be less

dense and therefore more buoyant.

44

S ECTION 4

Concentration in Air

As shown in the previous section, the presence and

amount of water vapor in air impacts the thermodynamic

properties of air. Several metrics for quantifying vapor

concentration are used and are discussed here. It is important

to note that all are dierent ways of expressing the same thing

and therefore knowledge of one can always be used to get

another. In some cases, one may be measured and another

may be needed in a model. The most common descriptors are:

1. Vapor pressure (e): As described above, this represents the

partial pressure of water vapor. Pressure is simply the force

(per unit area) imparted by the kinetic motion of molecules,

so the more water vapor molecules present, the higher the

vapor pressure. The common units used for vapor pressure are

Pascals (Pa) and millibars (mb) where 100 Pa = 1 mb. The

vapor pressure amount clearly depends on the humidity of the

air (and varies with height in the atmosphere), but typical

values of vapor pressure in the atmosphere near the surface

are in the range 1000 - 3000 Pa.

2. Mixing ratio (w): This is a mass-based metric representing

the Mass of vapor/Mass of dry air and can be expressed as:

w=

v

e

=

d

p e

(2.4.1)

important to keep these explicit underlying units in mind, but

because it is a ratio of masses the mixing ratio is often given

as a unitless quantity.

3. Specific humidity (q): This is another mass-based metric

representing the Mass of vapor/Mass of moist air and can be

expressed as:

q=

v

e

=

v + d

p (1 )e

(2.4.2)

in many cases, and especially near the surface, p >> e (i.e.

100,000 Pa vs. 2000 Pa) in which case the above equations

could be written as:

q w

e

p

(2.4.3)

Typical values for specific humidity (or mixing ratio) near the

surface are 5-1510-3 kg kg-1, where the small values simply

represent the small fraction of vapor in the atmosphere (Table

2.1). Because of the small values, units of g/kg are often used,

in which case the typical values near the surface are 5-15 g

H2O/kg Air.

Several other metrics exist that are relative in nature.

Before defining these, the upper limit (water vapor holding

capacity) of the atmosphere must be discussed. From

thermodynamic principles one can define the saturated vapor

45

that would be in equilibrium with a bulk water surface. In

fact, the curve between liquid water and vapor shown in the

pure water phase diagram (Figure 1.5) is illustrative of this

quantity. Note that the pressure in the phase diagram is for

pure water meaning that the pressure on the y-axis is in fact

the vapor pressure of water (since for pure water the partial

pressure is equal to the total pressure). It can be shown that

the saturated vapor pressure is given by the ClausiusClapeyron equation, which is defined by:

bottle with some air space above the liquid water. Given the

temperature of the system in the bottle, the equilibrium

amount of vapor in the air space would have a vapor pressure

equal to the saturated vapor pressure. In truth, some water

molecules will escape the liquid state and others will leave the

vapor state and condense on the liquid. The saturated vapor

pressure is the equilibrium condition where the rate of

vaporization of liquid water molecules is equal to the rate of

condensation of vapor molecules. An analogous quantity can

be defined over bulk ice and yields:

des Lv es

=

dT Rv T 2

L

ei (T ) = es 0 exp s

Rv

(2.4.4)

1 1

T0 T

(2.4.6)

[ODE]) shows that the saturated vapor pressure is dependent

solely on temperature. If one ignores the relatively slight

temperature dependence of Lv, the above can be solved via

separation of variables, yielding the integrated form of the

Clausius-Clapeyron equation:

latent heat of sublimation and that this is only relevant for

sub-freezing temperatures. The focus of the equations below

are on the saturated vapor pressure over water, but that for

ice becomes relevant in cold clouds and snow processes as

described in later chapters.

L

es (T ) = es 0 exp v

Rv

In practice the saturated vapor pressure is to a very

good approximation the upper limit to the actual vapor

pressure in air, i.e.:

1 1

T0 T

(2.4.5)

Pa respectively) chosen in the integration. Note that empirical

equations also exist that dier in form and take into account

the temperature dependence of the latent heat of

vaporization. The physical interpretation of es can be thought

of as the water holding capacity of air. Imagine a closed water

0 e es (T )

(2.4.7)

also define the saturated specific humidity:

qs

e ; with 0 q q s (T, p)

p s

(2.4.8)

46

capacity will turn out to be very important in both

evaporation and cloud/precipitation processes discussed later.

A key point that should be understood is that the actual

amount of vapor (i.e. e or q) in an air parcel is in general

dierent (less than) the saturated amount of vapor (i.e. es or

qs) except in the case of saturation. The saturated vapor

pressure or specific humidity are theoretical (not measurable)

upper limits on the measurable quantities e or q. In other

words, if the temperature of the air is known, you know its

water vapor holding capacity, but you have no knowledge of

the actual humidity in the air (unless saturation conditions

exist).

numerator) is relatively constant).

5. Dew point temperature (Td): This metric is defined as the

temperature at which air of a given vapor concentration (e or

q) would need to be cooled (at constant pressure) to reach

saturated conditions. This can be defined via the integrated

Clausius-Clapeyron equation:

L

e = es (T = Td ) = es 0 exp v

Rv

1

1

T T

0

d

(2.4.10)

1

These newly defined saturation quantities allow for the

definition of other metrics of vapor concentration in air:

1 Rv e

Td =

ln

T

L

es 0

0

v

actual to saturated concentration, i.e.:

be able to convince yourself of the following condition:

RH =

e

q

=

es q s

(2.4.9)

however, RH can also be defined as a percentage. Based on

the above definitions, it is expected that the RH of air will

generally vary between 0 (dry) and 100% (fully saturated air).

An important point to keep in mind is the strong temperature

dependence of RH due to the denominators dependence on T

via the Clausius-Clapeyron equation. Since temperature varies

strongly throughout the day, the RH generally has a strong

Td T

(2.4.11)

(2.4.12)

relative one that identifies how close the air is to saturated air

via:

VPD = e = es e

(2.4.13)

and is positive under non-saturated conditions (when e < es).

It also highlights the fact that saturated vapor pressure and

actual vapor pressure are two dierent quantities.

47

temperature air would be cooled to by evaporating water into

it (at constant pressure) until saturation is reached. It is

defined from the first Law of Thermodynamics as:

T Tw

L

= v

q s (p,Tw ) q c p

(2.4.14)

humidity, this is an implicit equation that needs to be solved

iteratively. The metric gets its name from the a wet-bulb

thermometer which is used to measure it. A wet-bulb

thermometer is a regular thermometer with a saturated wick

covering the thermometer sensor. The evaporative cooling

from the wick cools the air in the immediate vicinity of the

sensor. When used in conjunction with a regular (dry-bulb)

thermometer (often together called a sling psychrometer), one

can deduce the humidity of the air based on the dierence

between the dry-bulb and wet-bulb temperatures.

Together the metrics defined above represent the most

commonly used variables for expressing the concentration of

water vapor in air. It is important to remember that each is

simply a dierent way of representing the humidity of air and

that it is often necessary to convert between two dierent

metrics.

E XAMPLE 2.4.1

For a parcel of air with a vapor pressure of 1500

Pa, a temperature of 20C, and a pressure of

98000 Pa, determine the following alternate

humidity metrics for the parcel:

a) vapor density, b) specific humidity, c) relative

humidity, d) dew point temperature, and e)

vapor pressure deficit

a) The vapor density is given by the ideal gas law for

water vapor (Equation (2.3.1)), i.e.:

v =

e

1500 Pa

=

RvT (461 J/kg/K)(293.15 K)

density.

b) The specific humidity provides a mass-based

concentration, i.e.:

q =

=

e

p (1 )e

1500 Pa

98000 Pa (0.378)(1500 Pa)

48

vapor pressure first be calculated. Using Equation

(2.4.6), the saturated vapor pressure is:

) 2.5 10 6 J/kg #

&,

1

1

es = (611 Pa)exp +

%

(.

461

J/kg/K

273.16

K

293.15

K

$

'*

= 2368 Pa

where the larger the vapor pressure deficit the drier the

air is (i.e. relative to saturation). Air with a relative

humidity of 100% will have a vapor pressure deficit equal

to zero.

vapor pressure to the saturated vapor pressure, which in

this case is equal to 63.4%.

functions: vp_to_specific_humidity.m,

sat_vapor_pressure.m, vp_to_RH.m,

vp_to_dew_point_temperature.m, and

vapor_pressure_deficit.m.

temperature that air would have to be cooled to so that

it reached saturation and is given implicitly by solving

for the temperature at which e = es, which can be

inverted to yield:

1

)

# 1500 Pa &,

1

461 J/kg/K

Td = +

ln

%

(.

6

* 273.16 K 2.5 10 J/kg $ 611 Pa '= 286.1 K = 13. C

reach saturation. By definition, at the dew point

temperature the air would have a relative humidity of

100%.

49

S ECTION 5

It is important to discuss the primary variability of the

atmospheric states with height, specifically typical profiles for

temperature, pressure, density and humidity. The collection of

typical state profiles are often referred to as the standard

atmosphere. At any moment in time and space the profiles

may vary greatly from these standard profiles.

The typical temperature profile is used to define dierent

layers of the atmosphere (Figure 2.2). The lowest layer of the

atmosphere is called the troposphere and is approximately 10

km in depth. This is the layer most relevant to hydrologists

since it is where most of the weather processes occur and

where most of the water vapor exists. The temperature in the

troposphere is reasonably linear (decreasing with height), i.e.:

T(z) = T0 z,

T0 surface temperature

(2.5.1)

z altitude

and the surface temperature is approximately 290 K. The

reason most of the water vapor and weather processes are

and pressure in the atmosphere (from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/

File:Comparison_US_standard_atmosphere_1962.svg).

temperature with height in the stratosphere. This stratified

temperature profile is very stable (i.e. warmer air overlying

colder air) and acts as a lid to vertical motions. Exceptions

to this include extreme thunderstorms and volcanic eruptions,

50

stratosphere.

Pressure and density profiles are tightly coupled via the

hydrostatic equation, which can be derived from the balance

of pressure and atmospheric weight forces to yield:

dp

= g

dz

(2.5.2)

vapor pressure via the Ideal Gas Law (Equation (2.3.4)).

Combining Equations (2.3.4) and (2.5.2) along with the

decreasing temperature with height (Equation (2.5.1)) leads to

decreasing (near exponential) profiles for both pressure and

density with height (Figure 2.2). The typical values for

pressure and density at the surface are approximately 100,000

Pa and 1.2 kg m-3 respectively. At the top of the troposphere

the pressure and density drop o to about 25,000 Pa (250 mb)

and 0.4 kg m-3 respectively. The air density is negligible above

40 km (mid-stratosphere). Also, because pressure decreases

monotonically with height, it is often used interchangeably

with altitude as a vertical coordinate.

There is no standard water vapor profile, but there are

key characteristics that can be described. Figure 2.3 shows

representative profiles for three dierent latitude bands. In

general, the higher latitudes have less vapor since they are

colder. The lower humidity is largely controlled by the

saturated specific humidity governed by Clausius-Clapeyron

(i.e. colder air cannot hold as much vapor). The key feature is

F IGURE 2.3 Typical profiles of specific humidity in the troposphere at different latitudes.

essentially zero at the top of the troposphere. The reason for

this profile is that the primary source of water is at the

surface and the stratosphere prevents vertical movement

beyond the lower layer of the atmosphere.

51

To characterize the bulk amount of vapor in the

atmospheric column, we often use the so-called total

precipitable water, which is simply the integration of water

vapor mass (per unit volume, i.e. vapor density) with height:

Wp =

dz

(2.5.3)

interpretation of precipitable water is that this would be the

amount (mass) of water that would be yielded (per unit area)

if all vapor were condensed out of that column of air. Since

vapor density is diculty to measure, the above expression

can be rewritten in a more convenient form using the

definition of specific humidity and the hydrostatic equation as

given by:

Wp =

1

v dz = q dz =

g

0

1

q dp = g

ps

ps

q dp

(2.5.4)

water could also be considered. Often precipitable water is

expressed in depth units (i.e. equivalent depth of water) using

the density of liquid water as a conversion. Typical values of

precipitable water are on the order of 0 - 5 cm. In cases where

only near-surface data is available (i.e. full profiles of specific

humidity are not available), empirical equations exist, i.e.

(Dingman, 2008):

Wp = 1.12 exp(0.0614Td )

(2.5.5)

E XAMPLE 2.5.1

Estimate the precipitable water from the tropical

specific humidity profile in Figure 2.3. Assume a

standard atmospheric pressure profile. How does

that estimate compare to the one from the

empirical expression shown in Equation (2.5.5)?

Without data for the specific profile, it can be

approximated via a piecewise linear profile where at

altitudes of 0, 3, 5, 7, and 9 km, the corresponding

specific humidities are approximately given by 16, 5.5,

2.5, 1.5, and 0.5 g/kg respectively. The atmospheric

pressures corresponding to each level can be roughly

estimated from the standard atmosphere shown in Figure

2.2 as 101300, 70120, 54050, 41110, and 30800 Pa

respectively for the altitudes listed above.

The integral in Equation (2.5.4) can then be evaluated

numerically (i.e. using the trapezoidal rule):

1

Wp =

g

ps

q dp g 2 (q

p

i+1

+ qi )(pi+1 pi )

(5.5 + 2.5) 10 3(70120 54050)Pa +

(2.5 + 1.5) 10 3(54050 41110)Pa +

(1.5 + 0.5) 10 3(41110 30800)Pa] / 2 / 9.81 m s -2

= 44.4 kg m -2 = 4.44 cm

52

profile is equivalent to a depth of 4.4 cm of liquid water.

close (i.e. within 10%).

the empirical equation. It should be noted that whenever

you are using an empirical equation, it was developed

from the specific dataset analyzed and therefore is not

always generalizable to other cases. Also, in this case the

empirical expression relies only on near-surface humidity.

This makes its application much easier since a full profile

is not needed, but it implicitly depends on an assumed

profile which may dier from the one being used. Based

on the surface specific humidity, the surface vapor

pressure is given by:

functions: specific_humidity_to_vp.m,

precipitable_water.m, and Wp_from_Td.m.

An illustrative example of the variability in total

precipitable water on the timescale of days is shown in Movie

2.1. The key features are that the highest precipitable water

occurs over equatorial regions (where oceans are prevalent and

e

=

= 2524 Pa

0.622

The dewpoint temperature is then given by:

1

)

# 2524 Pa &,

1

461 J/kg/K

Td = +

ln %

(.

6

273.16

K

611

Pa

2.5

10

J/kg

$

'*

= 294.2 K = 21. C

given by:

evolution (over the ocean) as measured from the AMSU satellite (from sos.noaa.gov/videos/PrecipitableWater.mov).

53

rivers, which represent relatively narrow bands of high

precipitable water values that often bring vapor on-shore. A

specific example of an atmospheric river is the so-called

Pineapple Express, which consists of intermittent events that

bring a significant amount of vapor (and often subsequent

precipitation) from the region of the Pacific Ocean near

Hawaii to the northwestern U.S. coastal regions. Movie 2.2

shows another example in terms of the monthly average

precipitable water over the globe. The key features seen in the

animation are the latitudinal dependence of water vapor, with

highest values near the equator, and the seasonal north-south

described in the next chapter.

M OVIE 2.2 Illustration of monthly averaged precipitable water over the globe from July 2002-July 2012 (from

earthobservatory.nasa.gov/GlobalMaps/).

54

S ECTION 6

MOD-WET Codes

Relevant functions based on concepts introduced in

this chapter include:

Air density:

air_density.m

Bisection (root finding) function:

bisect.m

Vapor pressure (from dew point temperature):

dew_point_temperature_to_vp.m

Script with definitions of key physical constants used in

other functions:

physical_constants.m

sat_vapor_pressure.m

Vapor pressure (from specific humidity):

specific_humidity_to_vp.m

Vapor pressure deficit:

vapor_pressure_deficit.m

Virtual temperature:

virtual_temperature.m

Dew point temperature (from vapor pressure):

vp_to_dew_point_temperature.m

Relative humidity (from vapor pressure):

vp_to_RH.m

Specific humidity (from vapor pressure):

vp_to_specific_humidity.m

precipitable_water.m

vp_to_wet_bulb_temperature.m

RH_to_vp.m

wet_bulb_temperature_to_vp.m

sat_vapor_pressure_ice.m

Wp_from_Td.m

55

S ECTION 7

Conceptual Questions

1. Name at least two radiatively active gases in the

atmosphere.

2. What gas in the atmosphere is most variable?

3. What is the general trend of carbon dioxide in the

atmosphere. What are its two key modes of variability?

Explain.

4. Name the atmospheric state variables that are related to

each other via the equation of state for moist air (i.e. ideal

gas law).

5. With all else equal, is an air parcel with more vapor

concentration less dense or more dense than a parcel with

less vapor?

knowledge of the dew point temperature generally tell you

anything about the actual temperature? Explain.

10. Name the layer of the atmosphere that is most relevant to

hydrologists. Explain why.

11. How does the temperature profile generally vary within

the troposphere?

12. How do the pressure and density profiles generally vary

within the troposphere? What equation governs the

pressure profile?

13. How does the specific humidity profile generally vary

within the troposphere?

14. Describe in words what precipitable water is. Where on

the globe is precipitable water generally highest/lowest?

15. What is an atmospheric river?

atmosphere tell you about the actual vapor pressure of the

atmosphere?

7. If the relative humidity of air is 100%, what do you know

about the specific humidity?

8. If the specific humidity is constant throughout the day, how

would you expect the relative humidity to change (if at all)

throughout the day. Explain.

56

S ECTION 8

Sample Problems

Problem 2.1. Several atmospheric constituents, most notably

water vapor, greatly aect many of the processes we will

study. Therefore, it is important to be able to estimate how

much water is in the atmosphere over an area of interest.

Additionally, it is important to become familiar with various

temperature and humidity relationships. Consider the

following:

a) A parcel of moist air is at 870 mb, with a temperature of

12C and a relative humidity of 95%, what is the moist

density of the air in kg m-3?

b) What is the saturated vapor pressure of air (in Pa) at a

temperature of 37C? Explain the physical meaning of

saturated vapor pressure. How does it change as the

temperature increases? How does it change as the humidity

level of air changes?

c) What is the specific humidity (in g/kg) of air in part a)?

d) What temperature would a dry parcel of air need to have

in order to have the same density of the air in part a)?

e) What is the dew point temperature (in C) of the air in

part a)? What is the meaning of the dew point temperature?

31C, a pressure of 950 mb, and a specific humidity of 8 g/kg.

Using the appropriate equations, compute the following

properties of the air parcel:

a) vapor pressure

b) virtual temperature

c) density

d) mixing ratio

e) relative humidity

f ) dew point temperature

g) vapor pressure deficit

h) wet bulb temperature

i) Qualitatively, how (if at all) would each of the above

quantities [i.e. in parts a)-h)] change if the air temperature

decreased (with air pressure and specific humidity fixed)?

Problem 2.3. A large room in a museum has a 3-meter high

ceiling and its lateral dimensions are 10 by 15 meters. To

preserve the artwork, it is imperative that the specific

humidity be kept at 10 g/kg and air temperature maintained

between 20 and 25 degrees Celsius. Due to a power outage,

the climate control system responsible for maintaining

conditions in the room fails.

You are called to help fix the problem and by the time you

arrive your measurements indicate that the air relative

humidity is 80% with an air temperature of 21 degrees Celsius

and air pressure of 1000 mb. You have a portable dehumidifier

57

that takes in air from the closed room, removes water vapor

by condensing the vapor into liquid, and then discharges the

dry air back into the closed room. You run the dehumidifier

until the specific humidity is lowered to the required value.

a) What mass of water (in kilograms) will need to be

condensed out to reach the required humidity level?

b) What is the amount of energy released (in Joules) as a

result of condensing the humidity?

c) Assuming the energy computed in part b) goes into

warming the air, what is the expected rise in air temperature

due to the dehumidification. Note: The specific heat capacity

of air is 1004 J/kg/K. For your calculation, you may assume

that the change in air density (or change in air mass) is

negligible as a result of the heating/dehumidification.

d) Will the air temperature still be in the necessary range as

a result of the dehumidification or will it need to be

additionally cooled?

Problem 2.4. In winter-time, heated indoor air reduces the

relative humidity inside buildings. This is especially a problem

inside hospitals in cold climates where the air temperature

and relative humidity must be kept at 69F (20.6C) and 75%

respectively for health and hygiene reasons.

Consider a cold winter day in Chicago when the outside air

temperature is 20F (-6.7C) and the relative humidity is 90%.

(Assume air density is 1.2 kg m-3 and air pressure is 1000 mb).

the air is brought from outside and heated to the required

temperature, but not humidified?

b) Consider a hospital building with 1500 m3 volume. It has

a humidifier system that vaporizes 1 gallon hr-1 of water

(264.2 gallons = 1 m3). How many hours should the humidifier

be in operation to increase the relative humidity of the indoor

air to the regulation limit?

Problem 2.5.

a) Combine the hydrostatic equation and the equation of

state (ideal gas law) to show that the pressure profile for a

general virtual temperature profile (Tv) is given by:

# g

p(z) = p0 exp %

$ Rd

dz &

T (z)(

'

0

v

b) Derive the expression for the pressure profile for the case

with a linear virtual temperature profile:

Tv (z) = Tv 0 z

which is a reasonable approximation to the profile in the bulk

troposphere (i.e. with a constant temperature lapse rate).

Problem 2.6. Several atmospheric constituents, most notably

water vapor not only impact water fluxes, but greatly aect

the radiative properties of the atmosphere. Therefore, it is

important to be able to estimate how much water is in the

atmospheric column over an area of interest. The

58

using radiosondes, which are essentially weather balloons that

take measurements as they ascend through the atmosphere.

Radiosonde data collected at Hilo, Hawaii on June 21, 2012

showed that the virtual temperature of the air decreases

linearly with a lapse rate of:

units to a depth (e.g. cm of water)?

T = 5 K km -1

" z%

v (z) = v 0 exp $ '

# H&

above sea level [asl]) to 8 km asl. The observed surface virtual

air temperature is equal to 28 C. (Note: A linear decrease is

usually a reasonable approximation to the virtual air

temperature profile in the troposphere). Surface air pressure is

equal to 1000 mb.

a) Based on the derived pressure profile in the previous

problem, plot the pressure profile for this case. What is the air

pressure at an altitude of 8 km?

b) A common metric that is used to characterize the total

amount of vapor is precipitable water:

Wp =

(z)dz

0

to an altitude of 8 km is described by the following

exponential decay function:

and H is a length scale describing how quickly the variable

decays with height. What is the precipitable water (in cm of

water) of the 8 km atmospheric column observed by the

radiosonde in Hilo on June 21st?

d) Increased greenhouse gases are expected to result in an

increase in atmospheric temperature. The Intergovernmental

Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports that the increase in

the next 100 years may be between 0.6- 3.4 K. Conceptually,

what is the eect that the increase in temperature will have

on maximum water storage in the atmosphere (e.g. Is air

capable of holding more or less water?)? Comment on how

this might aect precipitation (frequency and rates).

in the vertical column from height 0 to height z. To get the

total amount of water you would integrate to the top of

atmosphere. What are the units of precipitable water in the

59

Chapter 3

Radiation

Processes

S ECTION 1

Learning Objectives

By the time you finish this chapter you should be able to:

variability in incoming shortwave radiation at a point (in

addition to the basic Earth-Sun geometry eects that

determine TOA fluxes)

10. Define net radiation at the land surface and its

components

from a blackbody

emissivity

from a graybody

quantities) needed to compute net radiation

variability in incoming solar radiation at the top of

atmosphere (TOA)

land surface

Earths land surface

7. Describe how (and based on what variables) the

atmosphere impacts the amount of TOA shortwave

radiation that reaches the surface (in both clear/cloudy

skies)

8. Describe how (and based on what variables) the

atmosphere impacts the amount of longwave radiation

that reaches the surface (in both clear/cloudy skies)

61

S ECTION 2

Basics of Radiation

Radiation is a form of energy that plays a crucial role in

hydrology. Radiative energy provided by the sun is the

external forcing of the system that drives the global

hydrologic cycle and atmospheric and oceanic motions. The

Earths surface and atmosphere reflect and absorb energy

from the sun as well as emit radiative energy of their own.

The absorbed energy and energy fluxes tends to drive water

fluxes and transformations (i.e. phase changes). Due to the

importance of radiative fluxes we would like to understand the

mechanisms responsible for the variability in radiative forcing

and develop simple models for these fluxes. We will start with

a quick refresher on basic radiation physics. For a much more

detailed treatment of radiation processes, the reader is

referred to Liou (1992, 2002).

Radiation is a form of energy carried by electromagnetic

(EM) waves (or photons). These waves travel at the speed of

light and can be characterized by either wavelength (the

length of a single period of the wave) or frequency (the

number of periods of the wave passing a given point per unit

time). The relationship between the two is given by:

= c

wavelength [m]

c speed of light [3.0 10 8 m/s]

(3.2.1)

and longwave radiation regions as well as sub-regions of the

spectrum (i.e. visible, infrared, microwave, etc.).

between wavelength and frequency. A schematic illustrating

the electromagnetic spectrum, which simply corresponds to

the characterization of such radiation across the spectrum of

wavelength/frequency is shown in Figure 3.1. Of particular

relevance to hydrology are those waves between ultraviolet

(nanometer scale) and microwave (centimeter scale) that

contain non-negligible amounts of energy.

From physics we know that the amount of energy

radiated per unit area per unit wavelength (i.e. spectral

radiant emittance) by a so-called blackbody (i.e. a perfect

emitter) is given by the Planck function:

frequency [s 1 = Hz]

62

R = B =

2 hc 2

(3.2.2)

5 ehc/(K T ) 1

constant (6.62610-34 J s), K is the Boltzmann constant

(1.380610-23 m2 kg s-2 K-1), and T is the physical

temperature of the body. What this equation tells us is that:

i) the emitted radiation occurs over a spectrum of wavelengths

temperature of the emitting body. An illustrative example of

this dependence is shown in Figure 3.2. The key

characteristics of the figure are that the peak is a strongly

increasing function of temperature (note log-scale on figure),

while the center of mass of the spectrum shifts to shorter

wavelengths with increasing temperature. For illustration, the

blackbody emission spectrum is shown for the Sun and Earth.

If we are interested in the bulk (integrated) radiative

energy flux from a body, then we can integrate the spectral

radiant emittance across all wavelengths, i.e. for a blackbody:

R = B d

(3.2.3)

show that the above integral yields the so-called StefanBoltzmann equation:

R = T 4 [Wm 2 ]

(3.2.4)

wavelength. The yellow and red curves corresponds to the approximate blackbody emission that would occur from the Sun

and Earths surface respectively (from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/

File:BlackbodySpectrum_loglog_150dpi_en.png).

like a blackbody. However, many other natural media (i.e. the

Earths surface and atmosphere) are not. Instead they are

referred to as graybodies, where the spectral irradiance is

given by:

R = B ;

spectral emissivity []

(3.2.5)

63

(varying between 0 and 1), i.e. how close the body is to a

blackbody, at a given wavelength. Note that in general the

emissivity can be a strongly varying function of wavelength.

By definition a blackbody has an emissivity equal to 1.0 at all

wavelengths. The integrated flux from a graybody can be

obtained by integrating across all wavelengths as above

introducing a broadband emissivity:

R = T 4

broadband emissivity []

(3.2.6)

integrated radiative flux with a blackbody being a special

case.

64

S ECTION 3

Radiation

Based on the Planck function it is evident that

temperature plays the key role in the intensity and

distribution of emitted radiative energy from a given body. In

the Earth system, we are generally dealing with two sources of

radiative energy: solar radiative fluxes (emitted by the sun)

and terrestrial radiative fluxes (emitted by the Earths surface

and atmosphere). The temperature of these two sources are

vastly dierent, with the temperature of the Suns surface

approximately 5800 K, while terrestrial temperatures are on

the order of 250 - 300 K. Based on these temperatures, the

relative spectral irradiance for solar (at the top-ofatmosphere) and terrestrial sources are shown in Figure 3.3.

As expected, the location of the peaks are dierent (i.e.

approximately 0.6 microns for solar and approximately 10

microns for terrestrial). Moreover, what becomes clear is that

there is very little overlap in the two spectra; i.e. the right tail

of the solar spectrum becomes negligible around 4 microns

and is approximately coincident with the left tail of the

terrestrial spectrum.

The solar irradiance distribution covers three primary

parts of the EM spectrum: ultraviolet (in the left tail), visible

(around the peak), and near-infrared (on the right side of the

distribution). The human eye is only sensitive to visible light;

Shortwave: Rs =

=4 m

=0.1 m

R d

when you see something, what your eye is really sensing is the

solar (visible) radiation being reflected from that object. The

objects color corresponds to the wavelengths of the visible

light that are reflected (rather than absorbed).

The terrestrial spectrum covers two dierent parts of the

EM spectrum: infrared (thermal infrared and far infrared) and

microwave (in the tail of the distribution beyond 50 microns).

The peak occurs in the thermal infrared (around 12 microns).

The basic principle of night-vision goggles takes advantage of

this fact where the sensors are tuned to be sensitive to the

thermal infrared region. So even though little visible light may

be available, the thermal infrared signature is still apparent.

65

Due to these dierences, we often treat the two fluxes

separately, in terms of both measurement and modeling. The

solar fluxes are referred to as shortwave radiation (spanning

approximately 0.1-4 microns) and terrestrial fluxes are

referred to as longwave radiation (spanning approximately

4-100 microns). Formally, the integrated fluxes can be written

as:

Shortwave: Rs =

Longwave: Rl =

=4 m

=0.1 m

=100 m

=4 m

R d

(3.3.1)

R d

(3.3.2)

distinct bands.

66

S ECTION 4

Radiative Properties of

Media

As shown above, an emitted radiative flux from a

particular body depends on its physical temperature and its

emissivity. The broadband emissivity strongly depends on the

media characteristics. For land surfaces, the surface type

largely dictates the broadband emissivity (see Table 3.1) and

typically ranges between 0.9-1.0. The broadband emissivity of

the atmosphere strongly depends on the concentration of

radiatively active gases, i.e. conceptually:

Since the gas concentrations can vary in time and space, the

emissivity itself varies. The most variable radiatively active

gas is water vapor and hence most models for the broadband

emissivity of the atmosphere depend explicitly on the water

vapor concentration. Examples will be discussed in more

detail in Section 7 where longwave flux modeling is discussed.

While the emissivity is a radiative property that

describes the eciency of radiation emission, other radiative

properties are important in terms of how incident radiation

interacts with media. For example, at the top of the

atmosphere, shortwave radiation is incident on the atmosphere

in a downwelling direction. Another example is upwelling

longwave radiation emitted by the land surface that is

VARYING LAND SURFACE TYPES ( FROM A RYA , 2001)

SURFACE TYPE

EMISSIVITY

Water

0.92-0.97

Snow (old)

0.82-0.89

Snow (fresh)

0.90-0.99

Ice

0.92-0.97

Bare soil

0.84-0.97

Grass (long, 1 m)

0.90

0.95

Agricultural crops

0.90-0.99

Forests

0.97-0.99

in what happens to these radiative fluxes as they interact with

media. To begin to quantify these interactions we define three

additional radiative properties of a media: the transmissivity

(t), absorptivity (a), and reflectivity (r). Each of these

represent an eciency of a particular radiative process.

Transmissivity represents the fraction of incident

radiation that gets transmitted through a media. On a

molecular level this represents photons (radiation) that do not

directly interact with the molecules in the media and therefore

directly passes through it. Absorptivity represents the fraction

of incident radiation that gets absorbed by the media, i.e. the

time-averaged fraction of incident photons (radiation) that hit

individual molecules and are absorbed. Reflectivity represents

the fraction of incident radiation that is scattered in all

67

that hit individual molecules and are reflected. It is important

to note that these properties are not independent, but linked

via energy conservation at a particular wavelength, i.e.:

t + a + r = 1

(3.4.1)

given media (at a particular wavelength) is either transmitted,

absorbed, or reflected.

Applying the above conservation principal to the

atmosphere, we can write for the shortwave band (i.e. using

an s subscript for shortwave):

ts + as + rs = 1

(3.4.2)

longwave):

tl + al + rl = 1

(3.4.3)

the sun and earth and b) absorption as a function of wavelength and molecular absorption (from homepages.ius.edu/

kforinas/ClassRefs/ElectroMagnetic.html).

As with emissivity in the atmosphere, each of these

properties are functions of the greenhouse gas concentrations

(where absorption by radiatively active gases is highly

dependent on wavelength). An illustration of the absorptivity

of the atmosphere across both the shortwave and longwave

spectra is shown in Figure 3.4 along with the primary

molecules responsible for absorption. One can see that even

over relatively short wavelength intervals, the absorption can

vary from close to 100% to close to 0%. Key features seen in

by ozone (O3), relatively little absorption in the visible region,

with the highest absorption occurring near 7 microns due to

water vapor, and key absorption features in the longwave due

to carbon dioxide, methane, and water vapor (among others).

Not shown on the figure is the microwave region (above 100

microns), which has relatively low absorption. The

determinant of the atmospheric windows (i.e. relatively

transparent due to low absorption) versus regions where the

68

the radiatively active gases in the atmosphere along with

scattering due to molecules and aerosols.

Some rough approximations can be made for the

radiative properties in dierent parts of the spectrum and for

atmosphere vs. land surface. In general in the atmosphere,

scattering within the longwave spectrum is considerably

smaller in the clear sky atmosphere compared to

transmissivity and absorptivity, such that:

tl + al 1 tl 1 al

(3.4.4)

transmitted through the atmosphere is essentially equal to the

fraction that is not absorbed. This simple model explains one

of the primary mechanisms for global warming. As the

concentration of greenhouse gases increase, the (longwave)

absorptivity increases thereby decreasing the amount of

transmitted surface longwave radiation through the

atmosphere (that would otherwise ultimately leave the Earth

system at the top of the atmosphere). This absorbed radiation

is then re-emitted by the atmosphere, a fraction of which is

emitted toward the surface ultimately increasing the surface

temperature.

longwave radiation (i.e. the transmissivity is small) and

similar to the atmosphere, longwave reflectivity is small so

that:

as + rs 1 as 1

(3.4.7)

al 1

(3.4.8)

surface albedo

radiation that is not reflected is absorbed and most of the

incident longwave radiation is absorbed.

The same conservation principle can be applied to the

land surface for shortwave and longwave fluxes:

ts + as + rs = 1

(3.4.5)

tl + al + rl = 1

(3.4.6)

69

S ECTION 5

Fluxes

The solar radiation entering the top of the Earths

atmosphere is the key external driver of the Earth system.

Understanding how much of the radiation at the TOA is

absorbed by the atmosphere, reaches the surface, and is

reflected back to space provides a key basis for understanding

the temporal and spatial variability of the hydrologic cycle. As

stated earlier, the sun acts like a blackbody emitter at a

temperature of approximately 5780 K. Hence the amount of

radiation emitted by the surface of the sun is given by:

on Earths TOA relative to the incoming solar beam and the resulting solar zenith angle.

4

Tsun

(5.67 10 8 W m 2 K4 )(5780 K)4 = 6.33 10 7 W m 2

only intercepts a small fraction of this amount (the ratio of

the surface area of the Sun to the surface area of a sphere

defined by the Earths distance from the Sun). The solar

beams are essentially parallel by the time they reach the top

of the Earths atmosphere and the incoming radiation is

generally referred to as the solar constant (I0):

I 0 = 1367 W m 2

a surface perpendicular to the incoming beam (Figure 3.5).

This amount of radiation then gets projected dierently at

dierent locations on the globe as locations are more or less

perpendicular to the incoming beam. Figure 3.6 illustrates

this where the same flux density (i.e. W m-2) is projected over

an area with a length scale of 1000 km near the equator, but

double that nearer the poles. Hence the amount of energy

(perpendicular to the TOA) is much less at higher latitudes

than it is at lower latitudes. This simple eect of geometry is

70

zenith (angle from vertical) and azimuth (angle in horizontal

plane from North) angles.

(i.e. the solar constant -- here scaled by the ratio of the intercepted area to the global surface area) is distributed over larger

areas as one moves further from the location normal to the incoming beam.

variability seen in hydrology, weather, and climate.

The position of the sun relative to a location on the

Earth (either at the surface or TOA) can be uniquely defined

by two angles: the solar zenith angle and the solar azimuth

angle (Figure 3.7). The zenith angle is a measure of the

departure of the incoming solar beam direction from the

vertical at the point of interest. The solar zenith angle is 0 if

the sun is directly overhead (i.e. exactly perpendicular to the

the tangent plane). It is this angle which describes how

perpendicular the surface is to the incoming beam and

therefore how much the solar constant is reduced. The

azimuth angle is an angle in the horizontal plane, usually

referenced to be 0 (or 360) at due North and 180 at due

South.

Recall that the Earth is tilted (at approximately 23.5)

relative to the orbital plane around the Sun (Figure 3.8). This

tilt combined with the orbit around the Sun is the reason for

seasonal variability over the course of a year. Additionally, the

orbit around the sun is not circular, but elliptical which

introduces another (relatively minor) mode of seasonal

71

(the so-called terminator) over the globe on the winter

solstice. On this day, the Earths tilt (relative to the sun) is at

its maximum of 23.5 which shows up directly in the

terminator line angle. On either equinox, the terminator

would line up directly with the Earths axis of rotation. Of

particular note is that the south pole experiences daylight

throughout the day and the southern hemisphere experiences

a longer day compared to the northern hemisphere (the

opposite would be true for the summer solstice).

function of day of year (from physicalgeography.net/fundamentals/

images/ecliptic_plane.jpg).

varies throughout the year. Nominally, the Summer season

corresponds to the time of year when the sun is closest and

more directly overhead, with the opposite being true for

Winter. As a result, the seasons are at opposite times of the

year for the Northern and Southern Hemisphere due to the

tilt of planet. For the Northern Hemisphere, the summer

solstice represents the longest day of the year since the

Earths Northern hemisphere is pointing most directly at the

Sun and vice versa for the winter solstice (Figure 3.8). The

opposite is true for the Southern Hemisphere. Movie 3.1

M OVIE 3.1 Animation showing the minute-by-minute evolution of the day-night terminator for the winter solstice (from

sos.noaa.gov/videos/oneday.mov).

72

Figure 3.9 provides an illustration of the diurnal and

seasonal evolution of the solar position for a given location (in

this case 40 North latitude). The details of how this position

is calculated is given below; here only the qualitative aspects

are discussed. The sun is generally lowest in the sky at the

winter solstice: only 26.5 above the south horizon (i.e. a solar

zenith angle of 63.5) at solar noon. Solar noon is simply the

time corresponding to the highest point in the sky on a given

day (and is generally dierent that local noon which is

impacted by time zones, daylight saving time, etc.). At this

location the sun is 73.5 above the south horizon (i.e. a solar

zenith angle of 16.5) at solar noon on the summer solstice.

For the Spring and Fall equinoxes, the sun is 50 above the

south horizon (i.e. a solar zenith angle of 40) at solar noon

since there is no relative tilt between the Eartha axis and the

axis of the orbital plane on those days.

Based on the above factors, the amount of incoming

shortwave radiation at any location/time at the TOA is a

function of Earth-Sun geometry which is completely defined

by: i) Latitude (i.e. location), ii) Hour of day (due to rotation

of the Earth), and iii) Day of year (due to tilted axis and

elliptical orbit around Sun). Several models for the TOA flux

based on these inputs are available at varying levels of

precision. A relatively simple model for the flux at the

location perpendicular to the TOA is:

cos 0

I0

, daytime: 0 90

2

Rs 0 =

d

0,

nightime

(3.5.1)

F IGURE 3.9 Schematic showing the seasonal evolution of solar position in the sky at a latitude of 40 degrees North.

(3.5.2)

# 2

&

23.45

declination angle =

cos %

(172 DOY )(

180

$ 365

'

latitude

T 12

hour angle = 2 h

24

# 2

&

d = 1 + 0.017 cos %

(186 DOY )(

$ 365

'

73

(i.e. January 1st: DOY = 1 and December 31st: DOY = 365),

Th represents the solar hour of the day (midnight = 0, solar

noon = 12, 11pm = 23), and d represents the distance

between the sun and Earth normalized by the mean distance.

In applications, data are often tied to dierent time

coordinates including Universal Time Coordinate (UTC; same

as Greenwich Mean Time) or local time (which may or may

not include daylight saving time) rather than solar time. In

such cases, the time should be first converted to solar hour

before applying the above equations. MOD-WET functions for

Equations (3.5.1) and (3.5.2) are provided in solar_geometry

and TOA_incoming_solar.

of the year and the latitude. White areas correspond to the polar night (from stratus.astr.ucl.ac.be/textbook/images/image(2).jpg).

F IGURE 3.10 Seasonal evolution of the solar declination angle (from physicalgeography.net/fundamentals/images/declination.jpg).

which is governed by the latitude of the location of interest,

the declination angle, and the hour angle. The elliptical orbit

plays a smaller role via the denominator in Equation (3.5.1).

The declination angle is the latitude at which the Sun is

directly overhead. Due to the tilt of the Earth, it varies

throughout the year between 23.5N (the Tropic of Cancer)

and 23.5S (Tropic of Capricorn) latitude (Figure 3.10). So the

declination angle is the primary seasonal control on the

incoming flux perpendicular to the TOA. As will be discussed

74

radiation received by sloped surfaces. In the Northern

Hemisphere above 23.5N, the Sun is always in the Southern

sky. Hence south facing slopes will get exposed to more

radiation than north facing slopes. The opposite is true for

the Southern Hemisphere. Finally, the diurnal variability in

TOA solar flux comes through the hour angle term.

To illustrate the seasonal and spatial variability of the

TOA insolation, the daily-averaged amount can be computed

The main features are that the Northern Hemisphere gets the

highest insolation in the summer and lowest in Winter with

the opposite true for the Southern Hemisphere. It is also clear

that the seasonal variability is least at the equator and

highest at the poles (where one can see the signs of perpetual

daytime during the summer and perpetual nighttime during

the winter). Implicit in Equation (3.5.1) is that the day length

itself varies considerably throughout the year. An example of

the variation in day length (for a location at 45 latitude) is

shown in Figure 3.12. A primary take-home message is that

many hydrologic fluxes will be directly aected by solar

forcing and as such will exhibit many of the variabilities seen

in the characteristics discussed here.

E XAMPLE 3.5.1

Compute the top-of-atmosphere solar flux over

Los Angeles (latitude of 34 degrees North) at

solar noon on the summer solstice (June 21;

DOY 172) and winter solstice (December 21;

DOY 355).

The earth-sun orbital parameters for DOY 172 (June 21)

are given by:

at a particular latitude.

" 2

%

23.45

cos $

(172 172)' = 0.409 rad

180

# 365

&

75

= 2

12 12

= 0 rad

24

" 2

%

d = 1 + 0.017 cos $

(186 172)' = 1.0165

# 365

&

The cosine of the solar zenith angle is then given by

(using radians for all angles, where the latitude is equal

to 0.593 radians):

cos 0 = sin(0.409)sin(0.593) +

cos(0.409)cos(0.593)cos(0)

where because this is the summer solstice and at solar

noon the solar zenith angle is relatively low. Note: This

day/time corresponds to the lowest solar zenith angle

over the entire year. The TOA solar flux is then given

by:

Rs 0 = (1367 W m -2 )

0.983

-2

=

1300.5

W

m

(1.0165)2

(December 21) are given by:

" 2

%

23.45

cos $

(172 355)' = 0.409 rad

180

# 365

&

12 12

= 0 rad

24

" 2

%

d = 1 + 0.017 cos $

(186 355)' = 0.9835 rad

# 365

&

= 2

(using radians for all angles, where the latitude is equal

to 0.593 radians):

cos 0 = sin(0.409)sin(0.593) +

cos(0.409)cos(0.593)cos(0)

where because this is the winter solstice and at solar

noon the solar zenith angle is much higher. Note: This

day/time corresponds to the highest noon-time solar

zenith angle over the entire year. The TOA solar flux is

then given by:

Rs 0 = (1367 W m -2 )

0.539

-2

=

761.7

W

m

(0.9835)2

value. The projection of the solar constant at the much

higher zenith angle results in a significant reduction.

76

This large dierence is due solely to the dierence in

earth-sun geometry between the two dates. How these

energy inputs are attenuated by the time they reach the

surface will depend on the properties of the atmosphere.

These answers can be confirmed with the MOD-WET

functions: TOA_incoming_solar.m and

solar_geometry.m.

77

S ECTION 6

The previous section introduced the basic concepts

controlling the amount of shortwave flux incident at the TOA.

Often of particular interest in hydrology is how much of this

TOA flux actually reaches the surface. It is the surface

incident radiation that will drive processes like evaporation.

The TOA flux is attenuated (reduced) by greenhouse gases,

aerosols/dust, and clouds before it reaches the surface. The

specific processes which cause the attenuation are absorption

and scattering. A schematic example of these processes during

daytime conditions is shown in Figure 3.13. Note the figure

shows the solar constant at the TOA, implying the location is

at a latitude corresponding to the declination angle. In general

the amount at the TOA will not be I0, but rather Rs0.

Nevertheless, the relative fractions attenuated due to

absorption and scattering provide a qualitative description of

the various sources and relative magnitudes of attenuation.

As shown in Figure 3.13, there are two primary

components of shortwave radiation reaching the surface. One

is the so-called direct beam radiation. This is the amount of

beam radiation that does not interact with the atmosphere

and is therefore completely transmitted. The direct beam

transmissivity varies with optical depth of the atmosphere (a

function of greenhouse gases and clouds). As shown in Figure

F IGURE 3.13 Schematic showing how solar direct beam radiation is absorbed and scattered in the atmosphere (from

powerfromthesun.net/Book/chapter02/chapter02.html).

78

low end of this range would be for cloudy skies, moist air,

and/or high zenith angle (i.e. during the winter and closer to

sunrise/sunset). The high end of this range would be expected

to correspond to clear sky conditions with a low zenith angle

(i.e. near solar noon and during the summer). The second

component is the so-called diuse radiation. This is radiation

that originated as direct beam at the TOA, but was scattered

(generally multiple times and in varying directions) before

reaching the surface. The fraction of diuse is generally

smaller than direct beam (5-26%), but also depends on

atmospheric conditions and solar zenith angle. Before sunrise

or after sunset or in overcast conditions, the illumination

provided at the surface is exclusively composed of diuse solar

radiation (Figure 3.14; in this case very evident as diuse flux

from clouds). One additional term contributing to incident

radiation at the surface, and not shown in Figure 3.13, is the

backscattered flux. This is the amount of direct and diuse

flux that is reflected from the surface and then backscattered

by the atmosphere. This terms is always smaller than the

direct beam and diuse fluxes.

To model these eects and get the total incident

shortwave at the surface we can define:

Rs = Rs,dir

+ Rs,dif

+ Rs,bs

Rs,dir

downwelling direct beam flux

Rs,dif

downwelling diffuse flux

Rs,bs

backscattered flux

(3.6.1)

F IGURE 3.14 Photograph showing diffuse radiation being reflected off of clouds near sunset.

In terms of estimating these fluxes, models of varying

complexity can be used. Of high complexity are those models

generally referred to as radiative transfer codes. These require

a full accounting of the profiles of atmospheric constituents

and surface conditions and attempt to model the absorption,

scattering and transmission as radiation interacts with each

discretized layer of the atmosphere. These types of models are

commonly used as modules within global climate models,

where the atmospheric state profiles are explicitly modeled at

every time step. Measurements of such profiles are not

generally available with sucient sampling density in space/

79

time and so for oine hydrologic analysis, simpler semiempirical bulk models are often used instead. A general

example of such a bulk model is given by:

Rs,dir

= tsRs 0

VARYING LAND SURFACE TYPES ( FROM A RYA , 2001)

(3.6.2)

R

s,dif

= Rs 0

(3.6.3)

Rs,bs

= (Rs,dir

+ Rs,dif

)

(3.6.4)

The coecients in each equation represent the bulk

broadband (i.e. integrated across the entire shortwave

spectrum) atmospheric transmissivity, scattering eciency,

and surface reflectivity. The broadband albedo of the surface

is primarily dependent on surface type (Table 3.2). The

transmissivity and scattering coecient are expected to vary

with atmospheric characteristics.

Putting the three equations together with the definition

of the total flux yields:

Rs = ts + + ts + 2 Rs 0

(3.6.5)

simply the TOA flux reduced by a multiplicative coecient

that varies between 0 - 1. It is very important to keep in mind

that the coecients shown in these equations must depend in

some way on atmospheric conditions and other factors alluded

SURFACE TYPE

ALBEDO

0.03-0.10

0.10-1.0

Snow (old)

0.40-0.70

Snow (fresh)

0.45-0.95

Ice

0.20-0.45

Bare soil

0.05-0.40

0.16

0.26

Agricultural crops

0.10-0.25

Forests

0.05-0.20

the models show up, where models for these coecients have

been developed based on experimental data and that may be

used with data available at (or nearby) a given study site.

Many examples of such empirical models exist. Generally,

clear-sky models are easier to develop so that clouds are dealt

with via an additional attenuation factor, although physically

clouds tend to simply change the above defined coecients

(i.e. decrease transmissivity and increase scattering). Models

are also generally developed for flat horizontal surfaces, with

complex topography eects creating additional complexity.

One such example (Dingman, 2008) uses:

ts = sa dust

(3.6.6)

80

The model shown above is applicable to clear sky

conditions. To take into account clouds, an additional

attenuation must be included. For the purposes of generality,

Equation (3.6.5) could be rewritten as:

= 0.5(1 s + dust )

(3.6.7)

(3.6.9)

clouds in the shortwave spectrum that depends on some

identifiable cloud characteristics. Some examples of this

empirical function include (Bras, 1990):

as = 0.0363 0.0084Wp

bs = 0.0572 0.0173Wp

atmospheric air mass and Wp is the previously defined

atmospheric precipitable water (here in units of [cm]). It is

very important to note that empirical functions such as these

are often not dimensionally consistent as a result of regression

to data, so that care must be taken with respect to the units

that are used. A first-order approximation used for optical air

mass depth is the inverse of the cosine of the solar zenith

angle (Bras, 1990), i.e.:

M opt = 1 / cos

Rs = fsc (cloud)"#ts + + ts + 2 $% Rs 0

(3.6.8)

(2008) or other sources. These equations show that for an

increase in optical depth, precipitable water, or dust (i.e. more

molecules for interaction including greenhouse gases) there is

a decrease in the amount of transmission and an increase in

the amount of scattering (and vice versa for the case of less

fsc (C ) = 1 0.65C 2

(3.6.10)

for completely overcast) or (U.S.A.C.E, 1956; Dingman, 2008):

fsc (C ) = 1 (1 ksc )C

(3.6.11)

where,

(3.6.12)

attenuation factor fsc should vary between 0 - 1. Models based

solely on cloud cover fraction do not make any attempt to

incorporate the possible variability due to other cloud

characteristics (i.e. cloud thickness, water content, etc.).

MOD-WET functions for Equations (3.6.6)-(3.6.8) and

(3.6.10) are shown in Section 9 which can be used (along with

the TOA flux) to compute surface solar radiation fluxes.

81

E XAMPLE 3.6.1

Example 3.5.1, estimate the incident shortwave

radiation on a short-grass surface for a clear-sky

day with an atmospheric precipitable water equal

to 3.5 cm and dust coecient of 0.1.

Qualitatively, how would things change if the

atmosphere were more humid, more smoggy, or

cloudy?

for this time is approximately equal to 1/0.983 = 1.02.

The atmospheric shortwave transmissivity can be

estimated by (Equation (3.6.6)):

will be transmitted directly. The atmospheric scattering

coecient can be estimated by (Equation 3.6.7)):

bs = 0.0572 0.0173(3.5) = 0.118

will be scattered toward the surface. The total flux

reaching the surface is then given by:

= [0.6 + 0.27 + 0.04 + 0.02](1300.5 Wm -2 )

= 1208 Wm -2

which shows that about an equivalent of 93% of the

TOA flux reaches the surface via transmission, forward

scattering or backscattering (in decreasing level of

importance). This fraction is relatively high because it is

the summer solstice. For the winter solstice, the optical

depth would be significantly larger which would decrease

the amount reaching the surface.

A more humid atmosphere would increase the

precipitable water and decrease the flux reaching the

surface. A more smoggy atmosphere would decrease the

transmissivity and increase the scattering, but likely lead

to an overall surface flux reduction. A cloudy atmosphere

would also generally decrease the amount of radiation

reaching the surface (see Equation (3.6.10)).

All of the models described above provide estimates of

the downwelling surface shortwave on a horizontal plane. In

areas of complex topography (i.e. mountainous regions)

82

impact of terrain on incoming shortwave flux is due to varying

exposure to the sun. In the same way that the solar zenith

angle relative to a tangent plane modifies the solar constant at

the TOA (Equation 3.5.1), the local zenith angle due to a

sloping surface can enhance/reduce the amount predicted for

a horizontal plane (Figure 3.15). The local illumination at a

given point in space is a function of two parameters: the slope

(or strictly the slope gradient) and aspect (or slope aspect)

angles.

The slope (S) is the angle in the vertical plane between

the tangent plane in the steepest descent direction and a

horizontal plane. Based on this definition, a horizontal surface

has a slope of 0 degrees while a vertical surface has a slope of

90 degrees. The aspect (A) angle is the azimuth angle in the

horizontal plane between the steepest descent direction and an

arbitrarily defined reference direction (usually North). So a

point that is facing due North, East, South, or West is

generally labeled with an aspect of 0, 90, 180, or 270 degrees

respectively. Based on the slope and aspect angles, one can

define the local illumination (zenith) angle, which is simply

the zenith angle of the solar direct beam relative to the sloped

surface:

(3.6.13)

0 solar zenith angle

S slope angle

A aspect angle

beam flux reaching the surface in the same way the cosine of

the solar zenith angle scales the solar constant at the TOA.

F IGURE 3.15 Schematic showing how slope/aspect can impact incident shortwave radiation.

In most applications, the slope and aspect are generally

computed from gridded DEM data. Several methods can be

used to compute the slope and aspect angles. The most

commonly applied computes the slope at a point by fitting a

plane to the neighboring nine cells (inclusive of the point of

83

matrix z(x,y) as:

2

2

dz dz

tan(S) = +

dx dy

dz dx

tan(A) =

dz dy

(3.6.14)

(3.6.15)

dierence approximation. An example of a DEM and the

(in meters) over an example terrain.

shown in Figures 3.16-3.18 (using MOD-WET function:

generate_slope_and_aspect_from_DEM). Note, as expected

based on the definitions, the slope is smallest at valley floors

and ridge tops with some hillslopes having slopes over 50

degrees. For aspect, the north facing slopes are red/pink and

south facing slopes are blue/green. The key question is: why

are these variables important to hydrology? It is important to

keep in mind that together the slope/aspect control the

exposure of a given point to the sun. As mentioned above, in

most of the Northern Hemisphere the sun is in the southern

sky. This means that south facing slopes will generally get

represented by the DEM in Figure 3.16.

84

significantly longer persistence of snow on the ground

(sometimes weeks or months) due to the smaller snowmelt.

The other main influence that topography can have on

radiation fluxes is a result of shading. The solar zenith and

azimuth angles change continuously diurnally and seasonally.

For a given solar geometry (i.e. zenith/azimuth angle) a point

F IGURE 3.18 Distribution of aspect (in degrees) of the terrain represented by the DEM in Figure 3.16.

one would expect more evaporation or snowmelt on south

facing slopes and less on north facing slopes. A good

illustration of this can be seen in Figure 3.19. Despite

relatively close physical proximity to each other, the two

dierent facing slopes show a stark dierence in vegetation

density (which are driven in this case by soil moisture

patterns). The south facing slope would be expected to be

drier due to increased evaporation from the higher radiation

inputs. As a result it is much more sparsely populated by

vegetation than is the northern sloping face. The same can

generally been seen in mountainous regions that experience

aspect effects on radiation on other hydrologically relevant

properties, in this case soil moisture and vegetation distribution. The slope on the left is north-facing and the slope on the

right is south-facing (from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:

Slope_effect.JPG).

85

position is obstructed by neighboring topography. When the

suns position is obstructed the point will be in shade. This

means that the direct beam flux is zero and any shortwave

radiative flux input is due solely to diuse and backscattered

radiation (Equation (3.6.1)). Similar to the impacts described

above relative to aspect, these patterns of shading can directly

impact the patterns of hydrologically relevant variables (snow,

soil moisture, vegetation, etc.). So in areas of complex terrain,

the topography will have many direct impacts on hydrology

(in addition to flow direction which will drive runo as

described in Chapter 10).

case of no shade and zero slope this reduces to Equation

(3.6.2). The shading mask is a dynamic quantity that is equal

to 0 when the sun is below the local horizon for a given pixel

and is equal to 1 when the sun is above the local horizon. The

MOD-WET function topo_shade_calc can be used to

generate these dynamic maps.

For diuse flux, the primary impact of topography has to

do with the so-called sky view factor (SVF), which is an

integrated measure of the amount of sky seen by the ground

at a given point. By definition, a horizontal plane has a SVF

of 1 and an infinitely deep and narrow canyon would approach

To quantify the impact of topography and shading, the

modified geometry can be accounted for to correct the

horizontal plane fluxes. Muller and Scherer (2005) formulated

the slope/aspect and shade eects into a single correction

term for direct beam flux received on a given unit area as:

s,dir

"

cos s

1 %

= tsRs 0 $maskshade

'

cos

cos(S)

#

&

0

(3.6.16)

binary variable that is 0 when the pixel is in shade and 1

when in direct light. Note that the TOA flux contained the

cosine of the solar zenith angle which is in the denominator of

the correction term. So the correction removes that angular

dependence and instead multiplies by the cosine of the local

illumination (zenith) angle. The last term in the correction is

a geometric enlargement term that projects the sloped surface

terrain represented by the DEM in Figure 3.16.

86

topography shown in Figure 3.16 is shown in Figure 3.20. The

ridges, which have a horizontal tangent plane, have a SVF of

1, while some of the valleys have values of 0.7 or lower. The

implication of having SVF less than 1.0 is that some of the

sky that would otherwise contribute to forward scattered

shortwave radiation is obscured. The diuse flux can be

modified to account for SVF via (Muller and Scherer, 2005):

Rs,dif

= Rs 0SVF + Rs (1 SVF)

(3.6.17)

contribution reduced by an obscured sky view, while the

second term represents a contribution from the reflected

shortwave radiation from the surrounding terrain (weighted by

the terrain-obscured fraction: (1-SVF)). An equivalent

backscattered term (i.e. Equation (3.6.4)) could then be

constructed. The SVF map can be computed using the MODWET function: compute_shade_lookup_table_and_SVF.

E XAMPLE 3.6.2

For the case shown in Example 3.6.1, how would

the incident surface radiation change if the

surface had: a) a slope of 10 degrees and an

aspect of 0 degrees (i.e. due North) and b) a

slope of 10 degrees and an aspect of 180 degrees

(i.e. due South)? In both cases assume there is

no shade and the sky view factor is equal to 1.0.

a) Note that at solar noon, the solar azimuth angle is

180 degrees (i.e. due South). The cosine of the local

illumination (zenith) angle for this case would be:

= 0.936 s = cos 1(0.936) = 0.360 rad = 20.6

So for this case the topography changes the solar zenith

angle from 10.6 to 20.6 degrees. The direct beam flux is

then given by:

s,dir

" cos(20.6 )

1 %

= (0.6)(1300.5 W m )$(1)

'

-2

so that the direct beam flux is 97% of what it was for

the horizontal plane. Since the sky view factor for this

case is 1.0, the diuse flux will remain the same. In the

more general case where SVF < 1 the diuse flux may

be reduced or increased depending on the reflected

radiation from the surrounding terrain.

b) For the second case, the cosine of the local

illumination (zenith) angle for this case would be:

cos s = cos(10.6 )cos(10 ) + sin(10.6 )sin(10 )cos(180 180 )

= 0.999 s = cos 1(0.999) = 0.010 rad = 0.6

87

Note that because the slope is facing due south the local

illumination is exactly equal to the dierence between

the solar zenith angle and the slope angle. If the slope

had been 10.6 degrees the local zenith angle would be 0.

The direct beam flux is then given by:

s,dir

" cos(0.6 )

1 %

= (0.6)(1300.5 W m )$(1)

'

cos(10.6

)

cos(10

)

#

&

-2

So for this case the horizontal flux is actually increased

by 3%. This is because the sloped surface that is facing

southward is more directly oriented toward the sun. Of

particular importance is that the two surfaces of the

same slope but opposite aspects have a dierence of over

50 W m-2 of direct beam flux. This dierence will

propagate to other surface hydrologic fluxes (i.e.

evaporation, snowmelt, etc.) which will lead to

heterogeneity in surface states (soil moisture, snow water

equivalent, etc.). Again, the diuse flux will be the same

as for the horizontal case if SVF = 1.

88

at the Surface

At the surface there are two relevant longwave fluxes:

that incident at the surface from above (i.e. emitted

downwelling radiation by the atmosphere) and upwelling/

outgoing radiation emitted by the surface. The downwelling

longwave radiation can be written conceptually as:

(3.7.2)

Rl = aTa4

S ECTION 7

(3.7.1)

atmospheric emissivity (which itself depends on the

concentrations of radiatively active gases), the temperature

profile, and the characteristics of any clouds present. To fully

model these fluxes at a given point requires the use of a

radiative transfer model and inputs of all the necessary

profiles. Because the atmosphere is rather absorptive of

longwave radiation, most of the downwelling radiation

reaching the surface is that emitted from the lower layers of

the atmosphere. So semi-empirical models are often used to

model the downwelling flux in terms of more readily available

near-surface meteorological measurements. In particular, the

clear-sky flux, using the physically-based bulk flux equation

introduced above, can be written as:

While the atmospheric emissivity is dependent on all

greenhouse gas concentrations, the most variable is water

vapor, so several empirical models have been developed to

estimate the emissivity based on humidity measurements.

Examples include that by Idso (1981):

a = 0.74 + 0.0049ea

(3.7.3)

by Satterlund (1979):

(T 2016)

a = 1.08(1 exp(ea a

));

[ea ] = mb;

[Ta ] = K

(3.7.4)

by Brutsaert (1975):

0.14

!e $

a = 1.24 ## a &&

"Ta %

[ea ] = mb;

[Ta ] = K

(3.7.5)

a = 0.605 + 0.048ea0.5 ;

[ea ] = mb

(3.7.6)

that empirical equations are not necessarily dimensionally

consistent (i.e. it is important to use specified units!) and are

most valid for the locations and conditions in which they were

developed.

89

The above model is for clear-sky downwelling radiation.

To account for clouds, a similar approach to that used in the

shortwave case can be used, i.e.:

Rl = flcaTa4

(3.7.7)

that while clouds attenuate shortwave radiation, they actually

enhance longwave radiation. This is because clouds

significantly increase the concentration of water in the

overlying atmosphere which increases the eective emissivity.

One example of such an empirical augmentation factor is that

by Kustas et al. (1994):

flc = (1 + 0.22C 2 )

(3.7.8)

and an increase in longwave by 22% for full cloud cover (C =

1). This particular equation makes no eort to model dierent

types of clouds which will undoubtedly introduce some error.

For example, two conditions might exist with full cloud cover,

but one a very thin cirrus cloud at considerable height above

the surface and the other a thick fog cloud in contact with the

surface. Such a case would be expected to yield significantly

dierent cloud impacts on longwave flux.

For the upwelling longwave flux from a surface, a similar

bulk emission model is often used, i.e.:

Rl = sTs4

downwelling radiation in that the emissivity is essentially

constant (since it depends on land surface type) or varies at

significantly longer time scales than the atmospheric

emissivity. Typically tabulated values are used depending on

the surface type (Table 3.1).

Strictly speaking, the longwave fluxes described above

are for a flat horizontal plane. While not generally as

important as with shortwave fluxes, the longwave fluxes can

also be impacted by terrain. The primary impact is due to

variable sky view factor (SVF) defined in the previous section.

The implication of having SVF less than 1.0 is that some of

the area contributing to downwelling longwave flux at a given

location is due to the emitted radiation of the surrounding

surfaces. This is often modeled using a weighted average of

the flux from the atmosphere itself and the surrounding

terrain, i.e for clear-sky flux.:

(3.7.10)

average emitted longwave flux from the surrounding terrain

(which may dier from the locally emitted flux). In the case of

flat terrain (SVF = 1) this reduces to Equation (3.7.2). This

can also be modified to account for cloud eects as described

above.

(3.7.9)

Ts surface temperature

90

E XAMPLE 3.7.1

Example 2.4.1, estimate the clear-sky

downwelling longwave radiation using the Idso,

Brutsaert, Satterlund and Brunt emissivity

models. How do the estimates dier and,

qualitatively, how would they change in cloudy

conditions? Also compute the upwelling longwave

radiation from the surface assuming it is covered

by a short-grass surface with a surface

temperature of 28 degrees Celsius.

and therefore not dimensionally consistent. So care needs

to be taken to use the specified units. Based on the Idso

model, the atmospheric emissivity for these conditions is:

The Brutsaert model predicts the following emissivity:

0.14

! 15 mb $

a = 1.24 #

&

" 293.15 K %

= 0.81

while the Brunt model predicts:

similar with a percent dierence of less than about 5%

across the models. This will directly propagate to the

clear-sky longwave radiation which for each of the

respective models are:

Rl = (0.81)(5.67 10 8 )(293.15 K)4 = 339 W m -2

Rl = (0.84)(5.67 10 8 )(293.15 K)4 = 352 W m -2

Rl = (0.79)(5.67 10 8 )(293.15 K)4 = 331 W m -2

so that across all models there is a dierence of up to 17

W m-2. If conditions were cloudy the longwave fluxes

would increase due to increased emission by the clouds.

The upwelling longwave flux depends on the surface

emissivity (0.95 from Table 3.1):

Note that the upwelling longwave flux is greater than the

downwelling flux. This is very often the case because

even when the overlying atmosphere is warmer than the

91

surface (i.e. at night or in winter), the surface emissivity

is often much larger than the eective atmospheric

emissivity.

92

(3.8.2)

S ECTION 8

Rl Rl

the incoming flux since the surface emissivity is generally

higher than the atmospheric emissivity and the temperatures

are comparable. Hence the net longwave radiation is often

negative.

The previous two sections provided physical descriptions

and relatively simple models for the key shortwave and

longwave fluxes occurring at the land surface. While it is

convenient to model each flux individually based on the

dierent physical relationships, the key radiative input is the

net (or integrated) radiation absorbed by the surface. It is this

net flux that will drive hydrologic processes at the surface.

The net radiation can be written simply as:

The net shortwave radiation is the downwelling shortwave (as

described by Equation (3.6.9) for horizontal terrain) minus the

upwelling shortwave radiation. By definition there is no

emission of shortwave by the land surface, so the only source

of upwelling shortwave is simply the amount of incident

radiation that is reflected. The reflectivity is exactly defined

by the albedo so that the net shortwave is given by:

Rs Rs = Rs Rs = Rs(1 )

(3.8.1)

shortwave radiation is not reflected is being absorbed. The net

longwave radiation is the downwelling minus upwelling

longwave fluxes:

Putting the two together we can write the net radiation

at the surface as:

Rn (x,y,t) = Rs(1 ) + Rl Rl

(3.8.3)

emphasis. The spatial/temporal variability comes through the

various factors that determine the individual fluxes (albedo,

emissivity, near-surface meteorological data, etc.). Since net

radiation is defined as the absorbed radiation by the surface, a

positive quantity denotes a net gain of energy input (that will

cause the surface to warm) and a negative quantity denotes a

net loss of energy (that will cause the surface to cool).

In terms of temporal variability, it is important to keep

in mind two key periodicities embedded in Equation (3.8.3).

The seasonal cycle is driven by the Earths orbit around the

sun, which yields seasonal variability in the TOA shortwave

flux as a function of latitude (Figure 3.11). This seasonal cycle

generally then imprints itself on the meteorological and

surface states that control the longwave fluxes. Diurnal

variability also plays a key role. The incident solar radiation is

zero at night and varies throughout the day with a peak at

solar noon. The incoming longwave is determined by air

93

strong diurnal cycle. Movie 3.2 shows an example of the

diurnal evolution of downwelling shortwave and longwave

fluxes over the central U.S. during the summer (on a cloudy

day). The diurnal cycle is clearly seen and is modulated by

the presence of clouds, which strongly control the patterns.

These patterns will directly propagate to the surface net

radiation. During the day and especially during summer, the

shortwave fluxes generally dominate the net radiation and

since the longwave fluxes are generally comparable in

night (and at high latitudes during winter) radiative cooling

generally occurs due to the absence (or limited amount) of

shortwave radiation inputs.

of clouds over a region in the Southern Great Plains of the U.S.

(Bart Forman, personal communication).

94

S ECTION 9

MOD-WET Codes

Relevant functions based on concepts introduced in

this chapter include:

Calculation of diuse shortwave scattering coecient:

diffuse_sw_scattering_coefficient.m

Calculation of direct beam shortwave transmissivity:

direct_sw_transmissivity.m

Computation of incoming solar radiation over complex

terrain:

disaggregate_SW.m

Conversion between easting/northing UTM vectors and

lat/lon vectors:

easting_northing_to_lat_lon.m

Slope and aspect determination for a given DEM:

generate_slope_and_aspect_from_DEM.m

Idso model for atmospheric emissivity:

idso_emiss.m

Satterlund model for atmospheric emissivity:

satterlund_emiss.m

brutsaert_emiss.m

Brunt model for atmospheric emissivity:

brunt_emiss.m

Computation of clear-sky downwelling and upwelling

longwave fluxes:

longwave_flux.m

Calculation of longwave augmentation due to cloud fraction:

lw_cloud_augmentation_factor.m

Estimation of atmospheric optical depth:

optical_depth.m

Calculation of solar geometry (zenith and azimuth):

solar_geometry.m

Calculation of shortwave attenuation due to cloud fraction:

sw_cloud_attenuation_factor.m

Calculation of top-of-atmosphere solar radiation:

TOA_incoming_solar.m

Calculation of shading due to topography:

topo_shade_calc.m

Generation of a shade lookup table and SVF map from a

DEM:

95

compute_shade_lookup_table_and_SVF.m

utm2deg.m

96

S ECTION 10

Conceptual Questions

1. Name the respective sources of shortwave and longwave

radiation fluxes. What part of the spectrum is covered by

each? At what wavelength does the peak for each occur?

2. According to the Planck function, name the physical

variable controls the magnitude (and distribution) of

emitted (blackbody) radiation. Name the additional

physical parameter that describes how close an actual body

is to a blackbody.

3. Name at least two atmospheric radiatively active gases that

absorb solar radiation. Name at least two atmospheric

radiatively active gases that absorb longwave radiation.

4. Define in words what surface albedo represents. What land

surface types generally have the smallest and largest

broadband albedo and what are their typical values?

5. Name the variables are needed to determine the TOA

incoming shortwave flux.

6. Define in words what the declination angle represents.

7. What is the maximum possible value of incoming shortwave

radiation at the TOA? Where on the globe will this

generally occur?

solar radiation between the TOA and surface.

9. Name the three components that make up the incoming

shortwave radiation at the surface. At midday during the

summer, which component would you expect to be the

largest? Just before sunset, which component would expect

to be largest? Explain.

10. Describe in words the meaning of aspect.

11. In the northern hemisphere (above 23.5 degrees North),

which aspect (north or south facing) will generally get more

incident solar radiation? Explain. How do things change in

the Southern Hemisphere? Explain.

12. What atmospheric variable is primarily responsible for

determining the eective atmospheric emissivity? What

additional variable is primarily responsible for surface

downwelling longwave flux?

13. What land surface types generally have the smallest and

largest broadband emissivities and what are their typical

values?

14. Name the four components that make up the net radiation

at the surface. What surface and/or atmospheric variables

and parameters are generally needed to compute net

radiation at a given location/time.

15. When/where will net radiation generally be positive?

negative?

97

S ECTION 11

Sample Problems

Problem 3.1. In this problem, you are asked to examine the

influence of the atmosphere on the radiative flux incident at

the earths surface. Incoming solar radiation in the shortwavelength spectra (shortwave) at the top of the atmosphere

(TOA) is partially absorbed and scattered (reflected) by

atmospheric molecules and particulates. As a result, only a

fraction of the TOA flux actually reaches the surface. Answer

the following questions using the equations provided in

Sections 5 and 6.

a) Compute declination angle, zenith angle, and incoming

top-of-atmosphere (TOA) solar radiative flux for solar noon

on December 21st, 2011 (winter solstice), and June 21st, 2012

(summer solstice) in Hilo, Hawaii (19.73 deg. N). For this

latitude and days of the year (and time of day), is the sun in

the southern sky, northern sky, or directly overhead? [Hint:

You can answer this by comparing the latitude to the

declination angle]. Is your answer generally true throughout

the year? Justify your answer.

b) What is the predicted shortwave direct beam

transmissivity of the atmosphere on June 21st based on the

precipitable water value you estimated in problem #1 part c)?

Assume attenuation due to dust Based on your answer,

approximately what fraction of the incoming direct beam solar

would this change if the amount of water vapor increased? So

if all else is equal, would you expect more direct beam solar

radiation to reach the surface in an area with a dry climate or

one with a humid climate?

c) What is the predicted scattering coecient of the

atmosphere on June 21st based on the precipitable water

value you estimated in the sample problem in the last

chapter? How do the transmissivity and scattering coecients

compare, i.e. which is larger/smaller, etc.? Qualitatively, how

would the scattering coecient change if the amount of water

vapor (i.e. cloud cover) increased?

d) Using Equation (3.6.5) and the coecients and variables

computed above, compute the incoming shortwave radiation

at the surface in Hilo, at noon on June 21st. Assume a surface

albedo of 0.24.

Problem 3.2.

a) Compute the top of atmosphere (TOA) solar radiation over

a location in the Sierra Nevada mountains (latitude of 36.535

degrees) for 9am, noon, and 3pm (local solar time) on October

17th (Day of Year 290). Note: The TOA flux we use (given by

the equation) is that perpendicular to the TOA. As part of

your solution, clearly indicate the solar zenith angle

corresponding to each time. What fraction of the solar

constant is coming in perpendicular to the TOA at these

times? Explain (using physical arguments) why the fractions

are less than 1.0. How does solar zenith angle vary throughout

the day?

98

For each of the three times listed above, answer the following

questions. Note: In reality the atmospheric parameters will

vary throughout the day due to the solar flux passing through

more or less atmosphere. Below we will assume they are

constant for simplicity.

b) Assuming that a transmissivity of 0.52 is representative for

this day over the Sierras, what is the magnitude of the direct

beam flux incident on a horizontal plane at the surface?

c) Assuming a scattering coecient of 0.185, what is the

magnitude of the diuse flux incident on a horizontal plane at

the surface?

d) Assuming the average surface albedo is 0.25 in this region,

what is the magnitude of the backscattered shortwave flux

incident on a horizontal plane at the surface?

e) What is the total shortwave radiation incident on a

horizontal plane at the surface? How do the three components

compare in magnitude?

f ) What is the net shortwave radiation absorbed by the

surface?

g) Describe conceptually what locations (latitudes) on the

globe would have increased solar radiation on south facing

slopes vs. those that would have increased solar radiation on

north facing slopes. [Hint: This is related to the declination

angle.]

vegetated surface during a clear sunny day:

Net solar radiation = 510 Wm-2.

Air Temperature at 2 meters: 22.7C

Air relative humidity at 2 meters: 80.0%

Ground surface temperature = 25.5C

Air pressure = 980 millibars

a) What is the outgoing solar radiation at the surface?

Assume a surface albedo of 15%.

b) What is the outgoing longwave radiation from the surface

(assume a surface thermal emissivity of 0.96)?

c) What is the incoming atmospheric longwave radiation? Use

the Idso model for atmospheric emissivity.

d) What is the net radiation at the surface?

e) This radiation must be dissipated at the surface. Assuming

half of this net radiation goes into vaporization of water at

the surface, what would the evapotranspiration rate be in

mm/day? If the latent heat later condenses in the

atmosphere, how much energy (in W m-2) will be released/

consumed? Specify whether the condensation corresponds to a

release or consumption of energy.

Problem 3.4. In order to plan the days irrigation rate, a

farmer needs to estimate the maximum potential water loss

rate by estimating the absorbed radiative energy at the

99

temperature is generally 41C and the air temperature is

33C. The air dew point temperature is 16C. Assume a

surface albedo of 30% and surface emissivity of 0.95. Based on

location and day (Day 186), the cosine of the solar zenith

angle at noon is estimated to be 0.974. Assume the

atmospheric direct beam shortwave transmissivity at this time

is 0.6, the diuse shortwave scattering coecient is 0.1 and

the sky is cloud-free.

a) Determine the net radiation at the surface.

b) Qualitatively, how would cloud presence impact your

estimate? Be specific.

c) Assuming 65% of the net radiation goes into

evapotranspiration (i.e. latent heat flux) at the surface, how

much water should the farmer apply (in mm/day) to balance

the evapotranspiration flux?

Problem 3.5. Some estimates of global warming contend

that surface air temperatures will increase by 3C over the

next 100 years. What would the change in incoming thermal

radiation at the surface be under this global warming scenario

if the nominal air temperature before the warming eect is

20C and the relative humidity of the surface air remains at

60%?

Problem 3.6. In a particular desert region observed by a

satellite, a localized thunderstorm covering 15% of the area

causes the soil in this area to become very moist (relative

saturation s =1). The dry area in the rest of region has s = 0.

detectable from a satellite because soil moisture can have a

significant impact on surface albedo. Suppose a simple

equation for the dependence of albedo on soil relative

saturation (s) is given by:

= 0.3 0.1s

Simultaneous satellite measurements indicate that the areaaveraged outgoing longwave radiation from the entire region is

536 W m-2. A ground based measurement indicates that the

dry area surface temperature is 315 K. Incoming solar

radiation at this time is equal to 900 W m-2 and average air

temperature and relative humidity over the entire region is

312 K and 35% respectively. Assume a representative value of

0.97 can be used for the land surface emissivity in this area.

a) What is the surface temperature of the moist area?

b) What is the net radiation over the dry and moist areas?

Explain why they are dierent.

c) What is the area-averaged net radiation?

Problem 3.7. To a large degree, the climate of Earth is

controlled by radiative fluxes. Radiative equilibrium consists

of the balance of net solar (shortwave) radiation, which is an

external input to the system, and net terrestrial (longwave)

fluxes, which generally depend on the Earths surface and its

atmosphere. A schematic picture of the global radiative energy

balance is shown in the figure below. Radiative equilibrium

refers to the condition where the net radiative energy is equal

100

other words, you will need to consider the area over which

each respective flux occurs. As indicated in the figure shown

above, an area equal to the projected cross-sectional area of

the Earth intercepts the incoming solar radiation, while the

outgoing longwave flux is emitted across the full surface area

of the Earth. The reflected shortwave radiation occurs over

the same area as the intercepted shortwave.

zero).

Related to this, and of particular relevance, is the greenhouse

eect which is generally used to refer to the impact of

(radiatively active) atmospheric gases on the Earths

equilibrium temperature. On the global scale there is generally

only one incoming flux (solar radiation) and two outgoing

fluxes (outgoing (reflected) solar radiation, and emitted

longwave radiation). Here you will examine the impact of the

atmosphere on the radiative equilibrium.

a) First suppose there was no atmosphere overlying the

surface of the Earth. For this case, write the radiative

equilibrium equation at the surface in terms of the solar

constant, the Earths surface: temperature, albedo, and

emissivity, and the radius of the Earth. The radiative

equilibrium equation should consider the total energy fluxes

Earths surface temperature. Your expression should be in

terms of the variables listed above and (and the StefanBoltzmann constant). Given the known value for the solar

constant, and assuming typical values for the Earths surface

albedo and emissivity are given by: 0.3 and 0.97 respectively,

what would the predicted surface temperature be for this noatmosphere case?. How does this compare to the observed

(global average) value of ~290K that exists as a result of

having an atmosphere?

Next, you will consider the impact of having atmosphere with

greenhouse gases. For simplicity, suppose the atmosphere can

be conceptualized by one layer characterized by a single

atmospheric temperature and atmospheric emissivity (both of

which are generally dierent then the surface values). Also, for

simplicity, assume the atmosphere is transparent to shortwave

radiation (i.e. shortwave transmissivity equal to 1.0), but

absorbs longwave radiation (with negligible longwave

scattering). Recall according to Kirchos Law that the

longwave absorptivity is equal to the longwave emissivity.

101

layer, write expressions for the upwelling/downwelling

atmospheric longwave radiation atmospheric temperature/

emissivity, and the Stefan-Boltzmann constant) and for the

atmospheric longwave transmissivity (in terms of atmospheric

emissivity). Assume that the downwelling and upwelling

longwave radiation by the atmosphere are the same.

d) Based on the longwave transmissivity of the atmosphere,

what is the expression for the longwave radiation emitted by

the Earths surface that makes its way to the top of the

atmosphere?

e) With the presence of the atmosphere, there are radiative

equilibrium equations at both the TOA and the Earths

surface. Write both equations in terms of the variables defined

above. You will again need to consider the respective areas

across which the fluxes are intercepted/emitted. You can

assume the atmospheric surface is the same as the earth

surface.

f ) Combining the surface and TOA equations you can

eliminate the dependence on atmospheric temperature. Do so

to derive an expression for the Earths surface temperature in

terms of the other parameters in the problem. What is the

predicted surface temperature for an atmosphere with an

emissivity (absorptivity) equal to 0? Equal to 1.0? What must

the atmospheric emissivity equal to match the observed

globally-averaged surface temperature mentioned above?

102

Chapter 4

Atmospheric

Circulation

S ECTION 1

Learning Objectives

By the time you finish this chapter you should be able to:

1. Sketch a conceptual picture of the annual average net

radiation absorbed at the TOA by the Earth system

2. Describe how and why the net radiation distribution

causes atmospheric motions

3. Sketch a conceptual picture of the general circulation of

the atmosphere

4. List the key characteristics of the general circulation and

discuss its impact on climate patterns (including

precipitation patterns)

5. Identify how high/low pressure cells are connected to

circulation and vertical motion

6. Identify which circulation feature is primarily responsible

for equator to mid-latitude energy transport

7. Identify which circulation feature is primarily responsible

for mid-latitude to pole energy transport

104

S ECTION 2

This chapter focuses on the key aspects of atmospheric

circulation as they relate to other hydrologic concepts covered

in the book. For a more detailed treatment of atmospheric

dynamics the reader is referred to Marshall and Plumb (2007).

The net radiation at the TOA is the key driver of the

global atmospheric circulation and hydrologic cycle. Based on

the definitions and notation from the previous chapter, the

TOA net radiation can be written as:

Rn 0 (x,y) = Rs 0 (1 0 ) Rl0

(4.2.1)

0 planetary albedo

planetary albedo is the bulk reflectivity and is a composite of

the atmospheric reflectivity and surface reflectivity impacts on

outgoing shortwave flux. Note that there is no incoming

longwave flux, as there is at the surface, since there is no

atmosphere above the TOA to emit downwelling radiation.

The upwelling longwave flux is a composite of that emitted

M OVIE 4.1 Illustration of monthly evolution of TOA net radiation (from earthobservatory.nasa.gov/GlobalMaps/

view.php?d1=CERES_NETFLUX_M).

surface and transmitted through the atmosphere. The

animation in Movie 4.1 shows maps of monthly net radiation

highlighting the spatial patterns and seasonality. Note both

positive and negative values representing a net absorption and

loss respectively.

It is instructive to average the above equation in various

ways to gain insight into the overall radiation budget and its

implications. If the above equation is globally averaged one

expects the basic conceptual picture shown in Figure 4.1. The

incoming shortwave flux is approximately 340 W m-2, which is

simply the solar constant multiplied by the ratio of the crosssectional area of the disk intercepting the incoming solar beam

to the Earths surface area, i.e.:

105

radiation (labeled backradiation in Figure 4.1; already

discussed in Chapter 4) and surface latent and sensible heat

fluxes (evaporation and convection in Figure 4.1; to be

discussed in Chapters 6 and 8).

Perhaps of more relevance is the insight obtained when

averaging the net radiation across all longitudes at a given

latitude band (i.e. zonally-averaged) to get the annual mean

net radiation at the TOA as a function of latitude. Figure 4.2

" R2 %

2

E

'

1367 Wm $$

=

342

W

m

2 '

# 4 RE &

2

shortwave flux, approximately 29% (approximately 99 Wm-2)

gets reflected back to space. When considering the global

average, the TOA net radiation must equal zero for the planet

to be in radiative equilibrium, which is shown in Figure 4.1

where the outgoing longwave flux is equal to 71% of the

incoming (approximately 342 W m-2). Note the net energy

must also equal zero at the surface, but additional fluxes

radiative fluxes over the globe.

106

added together provide the net radiation. What is seen is a

relatively symmetric pattern around the equator, with a

surplus of energy being input to the system in the tropics (i.e.

between latitudes of +/- 30) and a deficit of energy from

midlatitudes to the poles. In other words, the net radiation is

positive near the equator and negative near the poles. This

imbalance is a result of most of the solar input occurring near

the equator and radiative cooling occurring at the poles. The

key question is what does this imply?

For the planet to be in overall equilibrium the

implication is that there must be an underlying set of

mechanisms for the net transport of heat poleward from the

equator. To convince yourself of this, imagine the atmosphere

as three boxes isolated from each other, one centered on the

equator where the surplus exists and one in each hemisphere

where the deficit exists. If the radiation budget were the whole

story, the air in the box with a surplus would continuously

warm and the air in the two boxes with a deficit would

continuously cool. This is known not to be the case. While

heat between boxes could be transferred via conduction, this

is a relatively inecient process. When fluids are involved, a

much more ecient mechanism is via heat carried by fluid

motions (and as we will discuss later: latent heating associated

with vapor transport/condensation). In other words, warm

tropical air must be moved poleward and cool polar air must

be moved equator-ward.

from global net radiation distribution along with estimated contribution by the atmosphere and ocean circulation. PW = 1015

W (used with permission from Marshall and Plumb, 2007).

mechanisms for the transport will be discussed in more detail

below in following sections, but they are driven principally by

atmospheric motions and to a lesser extent by oceanic

circulation.

The heat flux necessary to yield equilibrium can be

inferred from the imbalance in net radiation. An estimate of

107

S ECTION 3

Atmospheric Motions

Driven by Latitudinal Energy Imbalance

Given the implied heat transport discussed in the

previous section, the primary question is how does the

atmospheric transport work? Here we will focus primarily on a

qualitative description of the key characteristics of the

atmospheric motion, i.e. the so-called general circulation. It

is important to note that the general circulation we will be

discussing is representative of the long-term average. Hence,

the general circulation is responsible for much of the

climatology on Earth, while individual weather events

(including extremes) can be quite dierent than the mean.

The instantaneous state and motion of the atmosphere can

dier markedly from the general circulation.

The primary impact of the net radiation distribution

shown in Figure 4.2 is that, within the troposphere, warmer

air exists in the tropics relative to the poles (Figure 4.4).

Thermal expansion of the tropical air columns (relative to

those at the poles) leads to a sloping pressure surface aloft

(also seen in the temperature isotherms) which would be

expected to drive air toward the poles aloft. Additionally, air

near the surface in the tropics would be expected to be

warmest, which due to buoyancy would generate an uplift

temperature as a function of height. Red arrows indicate expected vertical motions at equator and poles.

(warm air rises) with cold air aloft at the top of the

troposphere generating sinking motion at the poles. If these

were the only factors, they would imply a single circulation

cell as shown in Figure 4.5, with surface flows from pole to

equator, upward flow at the equator, return flow aloft, and

downward flow near the poles. This simple convection cell

model would have the desired trait of transporting warm air

toward the pole and cool air to the equator, eectively

redistributing the net radiation imbalance. In fact, early

conceptual models of the Earths atmospheric flow proposed

this model (Marshall and Plumb, 2007). However, an

108

that tends to deflect air parcels to the right in the Northern

Hemisphere (and to the left in the Southern Hemisphere). As

a result, wind moving toward the equator would be deflected

creating so called easterly surface winds (i.e. from the east

moving westward) in the polar and equatorial regions.

Another consequence of rotation is that air parcels moving

poleward are closer to the axis of rotation and tend to

F IGURE 4.5 Schematic of expected single-cell thermallydriven atmospheric general circulation on a non-rotating

planet. (from http://www.ux1.eiu.edu/~cfjps/1400/circulation.html).

rotation of the Earth, which brings angular momentum eects

into the picture.

The impact of angular momentum, and other factors

related to the Earths rotation, introduces a more complicated

general circulation. One of these key factors is the Coriolis

force (discussed in more detail in Section 5), which is an

(from http://www.ux1.eiu.edu/~cfjps/1400/circulation.html).

109

momentum. The result is a general circulation that features

three overturning circulation cells of varying intensity (rather

than just one) as shown in Figures 4.6 and 4.7. The three cells

are referred to as the Hadley (in the tropics on either side of

the equator), the Ferrel (at midlatitudes) and the Polar (near

the poles) cells. These types of figures attempt to

simultaneously show the circulations occurring in cross-section

in the atmosphere as well as along the surface.

The Hadley cell consists of warm air rising from the

surface at the equator, moving poleward aloft until around

30N/S, and descending toward the surface before returning

along the surface. The upwelling limb of the Hadley cell near

the equator is the primary driver of persistent tropical clouds

surface indicate direction of surface winds.

(ITCZ). The Ferrel cell has descending air at latitudes around

30N/S and poleward movement along the surface before

rising around a latitude of 60N/S and returning toward the

midlatitudes aloft. Finally, the Polar cell has the same sense

of circulation as the Hadley cell, but exists between the poles

and latitudes around 60N/S. Movement of air from the

surface to aloft (i.e. at the equator and poles) is typically

associated with lower than average surface atmospheric

pressure, while regions of air moving toward the surface from

aloft are typically associated with higher than average surface

pressure. These so-called lows and highs tend to be

persistent features of the general circulation as seen in Figure

F IGURE 4.8 Mean annual surface pressure distribution showing areas of typically high and low pressure (used with permission

from Marshall and Plumb, 2007).

110

with certain climate zones as will be discussed below.

It is very important to note that not all three of the

circulation cells are of equal importance or strength. The

Hadley cell is far and away the most persistent and influential

in terms of the energy transport described above. Evidence of

the circulation cells, with the prominence of the Hadley cell is

shown in Figure 4.9. As can be seen, the Hadley cell in each

hemisphere is consistent with the net transport of energy

poleward (albeit only to the midlatitudes). In fact, the Ferrel

and Polar cells are much less important in terms of energy

cells and to a lesser extent the Ferrel cells (used with permission

from Marshall and Plumb, 2007).

additional transport between the midlatitudes and the poles

as will be elaborated on below.

The other key features to note in Figures 4.6 and 4.7 are

the surface winds. Due to the Coriolis force, the winds in the

surface branch of the Hadley cell are deflected, becoming

easterly winds (or easterlies, i.e. from the east). In the

tropics, the easterlies are often called trade winds as their

persistent nature was taken advantage of to construct trade

routes used by sailing ships. As part of the Ferrel cell, the

surface winds are deflected, becoming westerlies. It is these

winds that form the onshore flow seen in the western U.S.

Finally the surface winds associated with the Polar cell consist

of easterlies. Another important point has to do with the

relative speed of the winds. To conserve its angular

momentum, an air parcel at higher latitudes would generally

need to travel at a faster speed (since it is closer to the axis of

rotation) than it does at lower latitudes. Hence the winds at

higher latitudes tend to be faster than the trade winds, which

are persistent but relatively mild.

As mentioned above, the Hadley cell is the chief

mechanism for transport of energy between the equator and

midlatitudes. This leaves the question: What mechanism is

chiefly responsible for transport between midlatitudes and the

poles? Rather than an overturning cell, the transport

generally occurs via eddy mixing in the horizontal plane of the

atmosphere. Due to stark temperature dierences, the

midlatitudes are often characterized by cold air masses from

the poles interacting with warmer air masses at midlatitudes

111

F IGURE 4.10 Schematic showing frontal systems at midlatitudes that result in mixing of cold and warm air via horizontal

eddies and frontal uplift (used with permission from Marshall and

Plumb, 2007).

fronts. The result of these interactions are two-fold: i) air

masses tend to circulate around high/low pressure anomalies

forming eddies that stir cold air equator-ward and warm air

poleward, and ii) warm air is driven upward over the cold air

due to buoyancy dierences (Figure 4.10). So while this

mechanism does not involve an overturning circulation cell, it

has a similar eect. Warmer air is transported poleward and

upward into the atmosphere while the opposite is true of

cooler air masses. Additionally, these horizontal eddies

(storms) are intermittent in nature in contrast to for example

the Hadley cell which is very persistent. The eddies tend to

dataset. Wind vectors are shown at three levels in the atmosphere: 300 mb (blue), 500 mb (white), and 850 mb (black)

(from NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio;

svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/vis/a000000/a003700/a003733/index.html).

112

week. These can be seen in Movie 4.2 which shows an

example of the dynamic wind fields over the Northern

Hemisphere (based on a combination of observations and

model output). The general circulation discussed above is

essentially a time average of what is seen in the animation and

is discussed in more detail in the next section.

113

S ECTION 4

To summarize the key aspects of the circulation

(especially those relevant to hydrologic processes) we can

disaggregate the key characteristics into those near the surface

and those higher in the atmosphere (Figure 4.11). It is useful

to remember that in this context the upper atmospheric

circulation features are mostly confined to the upper

troposphere.

A summary of the key low-level (near surface)

atmospheric circulation characteristics that exist include:

Relatively weak (i.e. typically 0-10 m/s) low-level winds (due

to friction) that exhibit a distinct spatial distribution

Convergence of easterly trade winds toward the equatorial

low pressure zone as part of the near surface branch of the

Hadley cell

Sub-tropical high pressure zones at approximately 30 N/S

as part of the downward limb of the Hadley cell

Westerlies, and more importantly, intermittent horizontal

eddies in the mid-latitudes

F IGURE 4.11 Schematic showing key general circulation features aloft (top panel) and at the surface (bottom panel) (used

with permission from Marshall and Plumb, 2007).

In the Northern hemisphere, the high surface pressure

zones are associated with anti-cyclonic (clockwise) flow, while

the low surface pressure zones are associated with cyclonic

(counter clockwise) flow (Figure 4.12). All of these features

are relatively persistent throughout the year, but can

114

subtropical jet) and midlatitudes (i.e. polar or midlatitude

jet)

and the resulting cyclonic and anti-cyclonic flow features.

Hadley cells tend to shift following the seasonal cycle of the

sun and hence may not be centered at the equator, but rather

centered around the region of maximum solar input. Similarly,

the position of high and low pressure zones tend to shift. For

example the high o the coast of California tends to move

northward during the summer deflecting storms and

minimizing cloud/rain formation (as will be discussed later)

over the region and moves southward during the winter

allowing for the observed seasonal storm cycles.

A summary of the key upper-level atmospheric

circulation characteristics that exist include:

Simplification of the flow patterns due to the lessening of

frictional (surface) eects

These so-called jet streams result from the geostrophic

balance (discussed in more detail in Section 5) between

latitudinal pressure/temperature gradients and the Coriolis

force and generally occur in regions of strong temperature

contrast (i.e. where circulation cells meet; Figure 4.13). These

jet streams circle the globe at fast speeds and are responsible

for much of the advection of storms. The annual average zonal

wind is shown in Figure 4.14. Note that since this is an annual

average and not a snapshot in time, the feature seen near the

top of the troposphere is really indicative of both the

subtropical and midlatitude jets which migrate latitudinally

throughout the year. In particular, the polar (or midlatitude)

line showing the key circulation features including areas of uplift, downdraft, overturning and jets (from theairlinepilots.com/

forumarchive/met/atmospherecirculation.jpg).

115

showing large jet streams (used with permission from Marshall and

Plumb, 2007).

winter to lower latitudes is primarily responsible for storms

(i.e. just the eddies discussed previously) migrating toward

lower latitudes. Since these jet streams are often responsible

for advection of storms they are often referred to as the

storm track. It should be noted that they not only migrate

seasonally, but can vary significantly from day-to-day. This is

shown more explicitly in Movie 4.3 which shows an animation

of the atmospheric flow with an emphasis on the jet stream.

The animation shows the large spatial extent of this

of the midlatitude jet stream over the continental U.S. (from

www.ux1.eiu.edu/~cfjps/1400/circulation.html).

be noted that its position is quite dynamic, the magnitude

varies in time, and there are many cyclonic circulation

features that are generated by and advected by the jet stream.

Figures 4.16, 4.17, and 4.18 further summarize/

conceptualize the key aspects of the general circulation. There

are two main mechanisms responsible for the transport of

energy needed to equilibrate the latitudinal distribution of net

radiation: the Hadley overturning cell that transports energy

between the tropics and midlatitudes and horizontal eddies

116

water vapor is plentiful and the upwelling limb of the Hadley

cells resides (Figure 4.18). Conversely, the downwelling limb of

the Hadley cells corresponds to the location of most of the

great deserts of the world, where evaporation far exceeds

precipitation. For example, this is the primary reason, for the

dry Southern California climate despite its proximity to a

large body of water and an onshore flow.

NASA MERRA dataset (from NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio;

svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/vis/a000000/a003800/a003864/).

These are mostly a reiteration of what has been stated above,

but it is important that these are the key take-home messages.

While features like the Ferrel and Polar cells are interesting,

they play secondary or indirect roles in the redistribution of

energy. From a hydrological perspective, knowledge of the

general circulation is important as it ends up directly

connecting to key fluxes (i.e. precipitation and evaporation) as

noted in Figure 4.18. As will be discussed in the next chapter,

areas of upward vertical air motions tend to be associated

with cloud and precipitation formation, while areas of

downward vertical motion tend to suppress cloud and

precipitation formation. Hence areas of high precipitation

A point worth reiterating is that the atmosphere is a

highly dynamic fluid and the above discussion has primarily

focused on its mean behavior. Other atmospheric features like

Monsoons, El Nino/La Nina, hurricanes/typhoons, etc. can be

as important as the general circulation, especially in localized

regions. This should be kept in mind. Movie 4.4 shows a

simulation of atmospheric dynamics in an attempt to more

F IGURE 4.16 Conceptual picture showing the key mechanism responsible for global heat and momentum transport

(used with permission from Marshall and Plumb, 2007).

117

vapor evaporates via the input of net radiation (occurs most

prevalently in the tropics where net radiation is high). This

energy input is then carried by the atmosphere in the form of

vapor until the vapor condenses (i.e. forms clouds). At that

point the same amount of energy that was consumed in the

vaporization process is released in the condensation process.

This is precisely why the process is called latent heating, as

eddies/frontal systems (used with permission from Marshall and Plumb,

2007).

white colors, while precipitation is shown in orange. Some

readily visible features of this include (among others): the

persistent Hadley circulation in the form of the ITCZ,

intermittent horizontal eddies at midlatitudes, seasonal eects,

including: the shift of the ITCZ north/south of the equator

and localized features like the Indian monsoon, which shows

oshore flow with little rain half the year and onshore flow

with heavy rain for the other half of the year.

Finally, in the above discussion, the focus has been on

movement and interchange of warm and cool air as a

mechanism for transport. This is important, but another key

with key features and the implication of these features on precipitation and evaporation distribution with latitude (from

sonoma.edu/users/f/freidel/global/207lec2images.htm).

118

M OVIE 4.4 Animation of model output showing seasonal evolution of precipitable water (white colors) and precipitation (orange) (from vets.ucar.edu/vg/CCM3T170/index.shtml).

the moving atmospheric fluid to later be released upon

condensation. This mechanism is important largely because of

the high latent heat of vaporization of water and represents

one of the key mechanisms (driven by circulation) for heat

transport between the tropics and midlatitudes.

119

S ECTION 5

Fundamental Equations of

Atmospheric Motion

The general circulation of the atmosphere described

qualitatively in the earlier sections is the product of the

governing equations of motion for the atmosphere. The full set

of governing equations are the coupled set of equations

consisting of: 1) the equation of state, 2) conservation of

momentum, 3) conservation of air mass, 4) conservation of

water mass, 5) conservation of energy. The equation of state

was already defined in Equation (2.3.4). In addition to that

form, it can be expressed in terms of specific humidity rather

than vapor pressure as:

(6.5.1)

water vapor equations will also be expressed in terms of q. In

considering the dynamics of a fluid parcel, the key state

variable is the parcel velocity. The fluid motions are generally

defined in terms of a three-dimensional velocity vector:

V = [u,v,w]T

(6.5.2)

u=

dx

;

dt

v=

dy

;

dt

w=

dz

dt

(6.5.3)

of an air parcel and T represents the transpose operator. As

such typically u, v, and w represent west-east, south-north,

and vertical velocity components.

Before considering any of the conservation (budget)

equations in a moving fluid we first need to consider: i) local

storage changes in the variable and ii) changes caused by the

air parcel being moved through a variable field. Consider a

general property of an individual parcel:

= (x(t),y(t),z(t),t)

(6.5.4)

which states that the variable depends on space and time, but

that the spatial coordinates are also changing with time due

to position changes. The so-called total or material

derivative is given by:

d

dx dy dz

( ) =

+

+

+

dt

t x dt y dt z dt

=

+u

+v

+w

t

x

y

z

(6.5.5)

storage change and the last three terms are changes via

advection through the fluid. Using vector notation, Equation

(6.5.5) can be written as a general total derivative operator:

d

()

() =

+ (V i )()

dt

t

(6.5.6)

120

follow.

The conservation of momentum is simply an expression

of Newtons 2nd law, i.e.:

" du dt %

F = a = dV = $$ dv dt ''

m

dt $

'

# dw dt &

(6.5.7)

pressure variations in those directions. The viscosity term is

given by:

V

t visc

"

2

2

2

2

2

2

$ u x + u y + u z

$

= $ 2 v x 2 + 2 v y 2 + 2 v z 2

$ 2

2

2

2

2

2

$# w x + w y + w z

(

(

(

= 2 V;

where F is the set of forces acting on the fluid, m is the air

parcel mass, and a is the acceleration. Note that the

derivative in Equation (6.5.7) is the total derivative so that

using Equation (6.5.6):

dV V

=

+ (V i )V

dt

t

(6.5.8)

three components. In a non-rotating reference frame the

relevant forces (per unit mass) are those due to: pressure

gradient, viscosity (friction), and gravity eects so that one

can write:

dV V

V

V

V

=

+ (V i )V =

+

+

dt

t

t press t visc t grav

(6.5.11)

kinematic viscosity

spatial variations in shear stresses. Finally, the gravity term is

given by:

T

V

= #$0, 0,g %& = g

t grav

(6.5.12)

which acts only in the vertical direction. Hence, in a nonrotating reference frame the governing momentum equation

can be written concisely as:

dV V

1

=

+ (V i )V = p + 2 V g

dt

t

(6.5.13)

(6.5.9)

In a rotating reference frame an additional apparent force,

i.e. the so-called Coriolis force, becomes relevant. The rotation

is characterized by the rotation vector:

V

1

1 $ p p p '

= p = & , , )

t press

% x y z (

)

)

)

%

'

'

'

'

'&

(6.5.10)

= = 2 rad/day

(6.5.14)

121

exclusively in the horizontal plane and is given by:

V

t coriolis

$ v sin

&

= 2 V 2 & u sin

&%

0

$ fv '

'

&

)

)

=

2

& fu )

)

&

)

)(

% 0 (

(6.5.14)

Ug =

(6.5.13) yields the full momentum equation:

V

1

+ (V i )V = p + 2 V g 2 V

t

(6.5.15)

the fluid. It should be kept in mind that this vector equation

has three component equations which can be written out

explicitly term-by-term. The importance of each term in the

above momentum equation depends on the context.

Before moving to the other conservation laws, some

useful special cases of the momentum equation can provide

insight on various flow phenomena. One special case is

geostrophic flow or geostrophic balance which corresponds to

the case where the acceleration terms (terms on left-handside) and the friction term (second term on right-hand-side)

are very small compared to the other terms. This is often the

case aloft in the atmosphere. Under these conditions the above

horizontal momentum equation can be written as:

2 U g =

1

p

vector Ug contains only the horizontal velocity components (u

and v). The equation can be rearranged to show:

(6.5.16)

1

k h p

f

(6.5.17)

direction) and the h subscript denotes that the gradient is in

the horizontal plane. Using the right-hand-rule for cross

products, this shows that the geostrophic flow is orthogonal to

the vertical unit vector and pressure gradient, which means

that the geostrophic flow is parallel to the pressure contours

in the horizontal plane. Hence, based on a map of pressure

aloft in the atmosphere (where geostrophic balance is

generally a good approximation) one can readily diagnose the

large-scale flow patterns. Equation (6.5.17) is often recast in

terms of the so-called geopotential height (Zg), which is

eectively the height corresponding to a given pressure level,

and can be written as:

Ug =

g

k hZ g

f

(6,5.18)

An example is shown in Figure 4.19 in terms of

geopotential height (at 400 mb in the atmosphere) over the

U.S. At any given location, the direction of the geostrophic

flow can be diagnosed by the cross product. At the sample

point shown in Figure 4.19, the vertical vector is out of the

page, the geopotential gradient is southward and therefore the

122

magnitude of the geostrophic flow (at a given latitude) is

determined solely by the magnitude of the geopotential height

(or pressure) gradient. Note that the geopotential height

varies in space and hence the direction and magnitude also

vary spatially. The flow is, as expected, mostly westerly with

some areas of cyclonic flow and will generally follow the

geopotential contours. The areas with highest magnitude

winds will be where the contours are closest, i.e. near

Washington/Oregon.

Another special case of the momentum equation is for

the vertical momentum equation when the acceleration and

friction terms are negligible in which case:

1 p

p

g = 0

= g

z

z

(6.5.19)

momentum equation can be replaced by the hydrostatic

equation. Note that this does not indicate that the vertical

velocity w is zero, rather just that vertical accelerations are

negligible. Hydrostatic models of the atmosphere generally

make this approximation to aid in the solution of the

governing equations.

in the atmosphere over the continental U.S. The vertical vector

(out of the page), geopotential height gradient, and geostrophic

flow vectors (not to scale) are shown at a given point.

The conservation of air mass equation can be written as

the balance between local mass change and convergence of

mass flux:

= i ( V) = (V i ) i V

t

(6.5.20)

123

get:

d

= i V

dt

(6.5.21)

In the atmosphere it is often valid to assume that the lefthand-side is much smaller than the right-hand-side so that the

air mass conservation equation could be replaced by:

i V = [u x + v y + w z ] = 0

(6.5.22)

The conservation of atmospheric water vapor can be

written in terms of specific humidity as:

dq

= body sources/sinks

dt

(6.5.23)

vapor diusion, an evaporative source from liquid/solid water

(Sevap, [Sevap]= kg m-3 s-1) and condensation sink from liquid/

solid water (Scond, [Scond]= kg m-3 s-1) from clouds respectively.

This can be written more explicitly as:

" 2q 2q 2q % Sevap S

dq

= q $ 2 + 2 + 2 ' +

cond

dt

y

z &

# x

(6.5.24)

(ql) can be written:

Sevap Scond

dql

=

+

dt

(6.5.25)

the two water conservation equations share the same source/

sink terms, but that they are of opposite sign. In other words,

evaporation from cloud droplets will be a source for vapor,

but will be a sink for liquid/ice. Similarly, condensation of

vapor will be a sink for vapor, but a source for liquid/ice.

Finally, based on the 1st Law of Thermodynamics one

can derive the conservation of energy equation in terms of the

so-called potential temperature:

T d

= 2 Rn LvSevap + LvScond ;

dt

R /c

#p& d p

= T %% ((

; p0 = 100000 Pa

p

$ 0'

thermal conductivity of air

c p

(6.5.26)

heat flux, convergence of net radiation, evaporative cooling,

and latent heating. Note that the latter two terms are the

same sources/sinks in the water conservation equations, but

converted to equivalent energy fluxes associated with phase

change. The net radiation convergence is essentially related to

the absorption/emission of radiative fluxes across the

atmospheric profile. Hence that term depends on the water

vapor profile (along with other radiatively active gases). The

potential temperature is a scaled temperature that accounts

124

temperature is conserved (constant) under adiabatic changes.

We have now defined the full set of governing equations:

Equations (6.5.1), the vector Equation (6.5.15), and Equations

(6.5.20), (6.5.24), (6.5.25), and (6.5.26). This represents eight

equations in terms of eight states (pressure, density,

temperature, three velocity components, specific humidity,

liquid/ice water content). The set of seven partial dierential

equations and one diagnostic equation (of state) are, among

other factors, coupled via velocity in the advection terms and

through phase changes in the body source/sink terms and the

impact of humidity and temperature on radiative fluxes.

Additionally, boundary conditions, e.g. fluxes at the surface,

play an important role in forcing the equations. Together

these equations form the basis of most numerical climate and

weather prediction models.

125

S ECTION 6

Conceptual Questions

1. Sketch the basic picture of net radiation at the top of

atmosphere as a function of latitude. (Make sure your axes

are labeled.)

2. What part (i.e. latitudes) of the globe absorbs the most net

radiation?

3. If averaged over the whole globe, what is the net radiation

at the TOA?

4. Which is ultimately more responsible for heat

redistribution: atmospheric or oceanic motions?

a high velocity westerly wind near the top of the

troposphere?

9. At what latitude bands do the persistent low surface

pressure anomalies occur? At what latitude bands do the

persistent high surface pressure anomalies occur?

10. What is the atmospheric circulation sense (i.e. clockwise

or anti-clockwise) around a low surface pressure zone? A

high pressure zone?

11. In what direction does a westerly wind blow?

12. What is an order-of-magnitude typical value of a nearsurface wind speed (in m/s)? What is an order-ofmagnitude typical value of a top of troposphere jet stream

wind speed (in m/s)?

have? In practice, which cell is far and away the strongest,

most persistent, and therefore most important?

6. What atmospheric circulation feature is primarily

responsible for transporting energy between the equator

and midlatitudes?

7. What atmospheric circulation feature is primarily

responsible for transporting energy between the

midlatitudes and poles?

126

S ECTION 7

Sample Problems

Problem 4.1. Model output from a ten-year climate model

simulation yields the average values for outgoing TOA

longwave radiative fluxes and planetary albedo shown below.

a) Plot the planetary albedo as a function of latitude. Explain

the physical reason for the latitudinal dependence of planetary

albedo. Note: Planetary albedo is the bulk (combined eects

of surface and atmosphere) reflectivity representing what

fraction of incoming TOA shortwave radiation will be reflected

back into space.

b) Plot the outgoing longwave as a function of latitude.

Explain the physical reason for the latitudinal dependence of

outgoing TOA longwave flux. Note: The outgoing TOA

longwave flux is the combined flux emitted by the atmosphere

and the flux emitted by the surface that is transmitted to the

TOA.

c) Compute the annual mean TOA incident solar radiation for

all the latitudes tabulated below and plot the annual solar

incident radiation as a function of latitude. The MOD-WET

code TOA_incoming_solar.m may be useful.

d) Compute and plot the net TOA shortwave as a function of

latitude. On the same figure plot the net TOA longwave. Also

compute, and plot on the same figure, the total net TOA

LATITUDE

PLANETARY

ALBEDO (%)

OUTGOING

LONGWAVE

(W M-2)

-90

58.61

148.1

-84

63.39

150.9

-76

64.85

160.0

-68

57.92

186.6

-60

49.30

201.5

-52

43.54

209.9

-44

38.25

220.6

-36

31.46

235.3

-28

27.62

248.3

-20

24.79

254.6

-12

23.02

254.3

-4

20.50

250.6

19.39

248.9

12

21.26

250.5

20

25.50

254.6

28

29.47

249.5

36

33.26

235.7

44

37.75

225.0

52

40.63

213.8

60

44.05

206.1

68

48.04

197.3

76

58.19

191.6

84

60.92

182.9

90

59.47

192.6

127

minimum net TOA radiations and where are they occurring?

e) If you were to integrate the total incoming and outgoing

fluxes over the areas over which they occur (to get the net

energy fluxes at the TOA), how would you expect the

magnitudes of the incoming and outgoing fluxes to compare?

Explain your answer.

Problem 4.2.

a) Explain how the energy absorbed from the Earth as a

function of latitude is related to the atmospheric general

circulation. Sketch and describe the key atmospheric

circulation features that are chiefly responsible for

redistribution of energy in the Earth system. Be specific.

b) What atmospheric circulation feature is primarily

responsible for transporting energy from the equatorial region

to the midlatitudes? Explain how the transport of water vapor

from the equator toward midlatitudes is related to energy

transport.

128

Chapter 5

Precipitation

Processes

S ECTION 1

Learning Objectives

precipitation

By the time you finish this chapter you should be able to:

precipitation

condensation of liquid water in air

areal average precipitation over a region/watershed

2. Define the dry adiabatic lapse rate and state its value

3. Define the moist adiabatic lapse rate and describe how/

why its typical value corresponds to the dry adiabatic

lapse rate

4. List and describe the two primary growth mechanisms for

water droplets in clouds

5. Use the Marshall-Palmer (or other) size distribution

function to compute the number of droplets in a cloud and

the liquid water content in clouds

6. Draw and label a schematic of the various processes

related to cloud/precipitation physics

7. Compute the precipitation reaching the surface using the

integral relating drop size distribution, uplift and terminal

velocities, and critical drop diameter

8. List and describe the four primary lifting mechanisms

involved in the meteorology of precipitation

130

S ECTION 2

Thermodynamics of Cloud

Formation

Precipitation generally refers to the flux of water

reaching the surface and is a result of a set of processes that

ultimately convert atmospheric water vapor to hydrometeors

(either liquid droplets or ice crystals) that can fall through the

atmosphere. Clouds are just a collection of hydrometeors that

are not large enough to fall to the surface. The processes

required to form clouds (and ultimately precipitation) include

both large scale meteorological phenomena as well as

microphysical processes on the molecular/cloud scale. For a

more detailed discussion of cloud and precipitation processes

the reader is referred to Yau and Rogers (1984) and

Pruppacher and Klett (2010).

The first necessary requirement for cloud formation is a

condensation mechanism whereby water vapor molecules are

converted to liquid or ice. To understand water vapor

transformations it is convenient to use parcel theory, which

is simply a conceptual representation used to follow parcels

of air as they move through the atmosphere. To a good

approximation, moving air parcels carry vapor around with

them. In other words, the specific humidity of an air parcel (q)

is conserved (i.e. q = constant) as a parcel moves, provided

there is no condensation. Given this fact, vapor will be carried

around by a parcel right up until the parcel becomes

the saturated specific humidity (qs) as described by the

Clausius-Clapeyron equation (Equation (2.4.5)) and that this

water holding capacity is primarily dependent on air

temperature (and on pressure). As air cools the saturated

specific humidity decreases (and vice versa). So for a parcel to

reach saturation, the air parcel must be cooled in some way.

One can imagine dierent thermodynamic mechanisms

for cooling an air parcel, i.e. radiative cooling, cooling via

conduction, etc. However the most ecient mechanism for

cooling air is so-called adiabatic cooling as a result of vertical

uplift. The basic mechanism is as follows:

1) If an air parcel is lifted, it expands due to a decrease in the

ambient pressure (which the parcel equilibrates with quickly)

as described by the hydrostatic equation:

dp

= pg

dz

(5.2.1)

density is described by the equation of state (Ideal Gas Law).

2) Expansion without an external heat input (adiabatic

process) causes cooling as described by the 1st Law of

Thermodynamics:

dTp

Tp

Rd dp

cp p

1

dp = 0 (adiabatic)

p

(5.2.2)

(5.2.3)

131

3) Combining Equations (5.2.1) and (5.2.2) yields the socalled dry adiabatic lapse rate, which is defined as:

dTp

g

9.8 m s 2

1

d =

=

=

9.8

K

km

dz

c p 1004 J kg -1K-1

(5.2.4)

the air parcels temperature cools with height. Here dry

refers to the fact that there is no condensation of water in the

adiabatic process (hence no heat input) and lapse rate often

refers to a temperature change with height.

What this tells us is that if an air parcel were lifted 1 km

in altitude its temperature would cool by almost 10 K.

Equivalently, if an air parcel is at the surface (with a surface

temperature Ts) and it is lifted upward, the parcel

temperature with height will be:

Tp (z) = Ts d z

(5.2.5)

the air parcel is sub-saturated. This rapid cooling mechanism

is generally responsible for an air parcel (if lifted) ultimately

becoming saturated (i.e. reaching the state where q = qs(Tp,

p)), which then leads to cloud formation and potentially

precipitation. In parcel theory it is generally assumed that any

condensate is left behind, i.e. not carried further by the

moving parcel. The mechanisms responsible for the uplift will

be discussed in the next section. It should be noted that the

dry adiabatic rate also applies to descending air, only in

approximately 10 K/km).

The height at which a rising air parcel becomes

saturated generally corresponds to the cloud base and is

referred to as the lifting condensation level (LCL). Any

additional uplift will continue to cool the air, but at a

dierent rate. The air parcel will be kept saturated (i.e. q =

qs(Tp, p)), but since the saturated value continues to decrease,

water will be squeezed out of the air parcel into the form of

condensate (liquid water). The process of condensation

involves a release of energy, which counteracts some of the

cooling due to expansion. The rate at which air cools as it

ascends in the presence of condensation is referred to as the

saturated (or moist) adiabatic lapse rate and can be shown to

be:

d

s =

(5.2.6)

Lv dq s

1+

c p dT

Note that the last term in the denominator is just an

expression of the Clausius-Clapeyron equation (in the form of

saturated specific humidity), which is a function of

temperature and pressure. So the saturated adiabatic lapse

rate is not constant, but varies with the state of the parcel. In

the limit of dqs/dT = 0 (which would occur at cold

temperatures (high altitude) or when all the vapor is

removed) the saturated lapse rate would equal the dry

adiabatic lapse rate. In the lower to middle troposphere the

saturated adiabatic lapse rate typically is about 6-8 K/km,

132

base depends on the initial temperature and humidity

contained in the near-surface air parcel. For example if the air

was starting at a warmer temperature at the surface (but had

the same specific humidity), it would take an additional

amount of uplift to reach saturation via adiabatic cooling.

Alternatively, if the air parcel was more moist to start (but

with the same temperature), it would reach saturation at a

lower altitude.

E XAMPLE 5.2.1

Suppose an air parcel near the surface has a

temperature of 25 degrees Celsius and specific

humidity of 10 g/kg. Suppose that the

temperature profile of the ambient air is given

by:

T(z) = Tsurf z

the atmosphere. Prior to condensation it cools at the dry adiabatic lapse rate, while after condensation it cools at a moist

adiabatic lapse rate (from paos.colorado.edu/~toohey/Fig_10.jpg).

involved in air parcel movement and cloud formation is shown

in Figure 5.1. In this example the cloud base (LCL) occurs at

pressure profile of the ambient air is given by:

g

p(z) = psurf

!T(z) $Rd

#

&

#T &

" surf %

and pressure respectively with a surface pressure

133

value of 1000 mb. If the air parcel is lifted, what

is the expected cloud base height (or lifting

condensation level (LCL))? Qualitatively, how

will the answer change if the surface air were

moister? Or colder? What is the saturated

adiabatic lapse rate at the LCL?

It is commonly assumed that an air parcel will quickly

equilibrate with the ambient air pressure so that the

pressure profiles of the parcel and ambient air are the

same. The parcel air temperature profile however may

dier from the ambient profile since it is governed by the

dry adiabatic lapse rate. A special case would be where

the ambient air has a temperature lapse rate equal to the

dry adiabatic lapse rate, but this generally may not be

the case. It is also generally assumed that the specific

humidity of the air parcel will be constant until it is

lifted to the altitude where saturation occurs. Saturation

occurs due to a decreasing saturated specific humidity

with height and is defined by the condition:

q = q s (z LCL ) =

es (Tp (z LCL ))

p(z LCL )

#L

es 0 exp % v

%R

$ v

#1

&&

1

%

((

%T T z ((

$ 0

surf

d LCL ''

g

psurf

#T z &Rd

LCL

% surf

(

%

(

T

$

'

surf

humidity of the parcel will equal the saturated specific

humidity of the parcel. Any additional lifting will yield

condensation and hence clouds. Note that the saturated

vapor pressure profile is governed by the parcel (dry

adiabatic) lapse rate and the pressure profile is governed

by the ambient pressure profile.

The cloud base height or LCL (zLCL) is defined implicitly

by q = qs(zLCL) where q is the starting surface specific

humidity and is equal to 10 g/kg. Note that this

condition forms a nonlinear equation that cannot be

solved for in closed form. Hence this becomes a

rootfinding problem that must be solved numerically.

Doing so, yields an LCL equal to approximately 1740 m.

If the surface air were moister, it would be closer to

saturation and therefore will not need to be lifted as far

to reach saturation. For example, if the surface air had a

specific humidity of 12 g/kg, the LCL would be reduced

to approximately 1310 m. The opposite would be true if

134

the air were drier (i.e. it would have a higher LCL). For

colder air, the parcel will also be closer to saturation and

therefore have a lower LCL. For example, if the surface

air had a temperature of 20 degrees Celsius, the LCL

would be reduced to approximately 950 m.

(9.8 10 3 K/m)

s =

(2.5 10 6 J/kg)

1+

(6.84 10 4 kg/kg/K)

(1004 J/kg/K)

computed by first computing the temperature and

pressure at the LCL and then the slope of the derivative

of the saturated specific humidity with temperature:

reduced relative to the dry adiabatic lapse rate. As

lifting (and cooling) continues, the derivative of the

saturated specific humidity will approach zero and the

the saturated adiabatic lapse rate will approach the dry

adiabatic lapse rate.

9.81 m s -2

pLCL = (100000 Pa) #

&

298.15

K

"

%

= 66860 Pa

dq s

(0.622)

2.5 10 6 J/kg

=

# 2.5 10 6 J/kg #

&&

1

1

(611 Pa)exp %

%

((

$ 461 J/kg/K $ 273.16 K 281.1 K ''

(281.1 K)2

= 6.84 10 4 kg kg -1 K-1

135

S ECTION 3

Cloud Microphysics

While cooling via adiabatic uplift is generally necessary

for cloud formation, it is not sucient. Several microphysical

processes are responsible for the formation, growth, and

ultimate conversion of vapor to precipitation.

It turns out that while condensation is generally

observed when an air parcel reaches saturation, water vapor

alone is often insucient to form hydrometeors. Rather,

particulates that are pervasive in the atmosphere (aerosols,

ash, salt, etc.), which are often referred to as cloud

condensation nuclei (CCN), are at the heart of the initial

conversion of water vapor to hydrometeors. These CCNs are

typically on the order of 0.2 micrometers in diameter

compared to a water molecule which is on the order of 0.3

nanometers (i.e. three orders of magnitude smaller). The

process of water vapor molecules spontaneously joining

together via condensation to form a liquid droplet (or ice

crystal) is called homogeneous nucleation. While this is

theoretically possible, the small size of a water molecule,

combined with the surface tension eects as a function of

radius (i.e. higher surface tension for a smaller radius), makes

such droplet formation relatively rare and/or inecient.

Instead, CCNs provide a nucleation site for the water vapor

molecules to condense onto via what is referred to as

heterogeneous nucleation (Figure 5.2). The larger nuclei makes

as nuclei for water vapor to condense on (from

weathergamut.com/wp-content/uploads/2001/10/nuclei.jpg).

cases where the number of CCNs is limiting, the cloud may

actually be super-saturated whereby the relative humidity in

the cloud is greater than 100% (generally by no more than a

few percent). This cloud droplet initiation process is the

theoretical basis for cloud seeding where artificial

particulates (often silver iodide) are introduced into the

atmosphere in an attempt to increase cloud formation with

the hope of increasing precipitation.

The dierence between a precipitating vs. nonprecipitating cloud is simply a reflection of the size of the

hydrometeors in the cloud. Figure 5.3 shows the typical drop

sizes in a cloud, ranging from the CCNs (radius of 0.1

microns) to a typical droplet of size 10 - 50 microns to a

typical rain drop of radius 1000 microns (1 mm). For

precipitation to occur, cloud hydrometeors must grow to

136

first place and therefore an updraft (vertical velocity) is

generally present. Small drops will generally be suspended if

their terminal velocity (proportional to their mass) is

comparable to the updraft, but if too small may be blown

upward by the updraft, often causing evaporation of the

droplet and dissipation of the cloud. The magnitude of the

updraft largely depends on the mechanism for uplift and will

be described in more detail below.

F IGURE 5.3 Illustration of typical relative sizes of various hydrometeors in a warm cloud (from geog.ucbs.edu/~joel/g110_w08/

lecture_notes/precip_processes/agburt07_02.jpg).

larger than the updraft velocity (Vup) in the cloud and ii)

survive evaporation between the cloud base and the surface.

In warm clouds (i.e. those above freezing and populated

solely with liquid water and vapor) there are two primary

growth mechanisms. The first is simply a diusional

condensation process. This is where individual water vapor

molecules diuse through the air (as a result of vapor

concentration gradients) and attach to a CCN or existing

droplet. In terms of speed, this process is slow since eectively

one vapor molecule is being added at a time to an existing

hydrometeor via diusion. Assuming sucient CCNs are

present, this condensation process is a limiting factor early in

a cloud life-cycle. It is important to keep in mind that an

Once droplets

of sucient size exist

in the cloud, some

start to fall relative

to the updraft.

Bigger droplets will

fall faster than

smaller ones,

overtaking them

(Figure 5.4). There

will generally be

some collisions

between droplets and

some coalescence.

This collision/

coalescence growth

mechanism yields a

much faster growth

rate and is generally

responsible for the

and coalescence process in a cloud

(from cmmap.org/images/learn/clouds/

cc.jpg).

137

unit volume of air per unit diameter bin. Figure 5.3 provides

some indication of this distribution, with small cloud droplets

being in large numbers (e.g., 106 droplets per liter of air in

this example) compared to much fewer large cloud droplets

(e.g., 103 per liter) and even fewer raindrops (e.g., 1 droplet

per liter). These values are just an example and the actual

distribution varies considerably from one cloud to another.

The most common DSD used to describe precipitating (warm)

clouds is the so-called Marshall-Palmer (1948) distribution:

N(D) = N 0 exp(cD)

large enough (from Ackerman and Knox, 2006).

leave the cloud base as precipitation (Figure 5.5).

The combination of these processes leads to a wide

spectrum of droplet sizes in a cloud. To quantify cloud

properties, a drop size distribution (DSD) function (N(D)) is

often used, which simply describes the number of droplets per

(5.3.1)

cm-4) and c is a parameter dependent on the cloud conditions.

One can think of the DSD as a probability density function

(pdf) describing the distribution of droplet sizes and the

Marshall-Palmer distribution is therefore equivalent to an

exponential pdf. In this context, one can show that the

parameter c is equivalent to the inverse of the average droplet

diameter, i.e.:

c=

1

;

D

(5.3.2)

[-]/L3/L=L-4. Like most DSDs, the Marshall-Palmer

distribution implies a higher number of small droplets

compared to large droplets. It is however a simplification of

reality in that it predicts non-zero numbers of zero diameter

droplets (not physically possible). It is used however due to its

analytical tractability and because the erroneous specification

138

error in other characteristics. More realistic DSDs that are

often also used include Lognormal or Gamma distributions.

The primary use of the DSD is that it can then be used

to quantify other properties related to a given cloud. Some

simple examples include the total number of drops in the

cloud, i.e.:

(5.3.3)

droplets), i.e.:

D3

LWC = w

N(D)dD

6

0

distribution with an average drop diameter of 0.5

mm. a) What is the total number of drops in the

cloud (per cubic meter of air)? and b) What is

the liquid water content (in grams per cubic

meter of air)?

Based on the average drop diameter, the MarshallPalmer DSD parameter is equal to:

c=

(5.3.4)

unit volume. The first part of the integrand is the mass of a

droplet of diameter D, which is then multiplied by the number

of drops of that size bin and summed up via the integration

across all sizes. The integration limits used are to cover all

possible sizes although a physical upper limit would be drops

on the order of a few millimeters in diameter.

E XAMPLE 5.3.1

Suppose a cloud has a Marshall-Palmer drop size

1

1

=

= 2 mm -1

D 0.5 mm

integrating the DSD:

Total # of drops =

N 0e cD dD =

0

N 0 cD

e

0

c

N0

N

[0 1] = 0

c

c

4

4 (100 cm)

(0.08 cm )

4

1

m

=

= 8000 drops m -3

1000 mm

2 mm 1

1m

=

spherical water droplets and integrating the product of a

single drop mass and the DSD over all drop sizes:

139

precipitation mass flux can be obtained by multiplying by the

density of water. The terminal velocity is usually

parameterized in terms of the drop size, with the simplest

(linear) form being given by:

LWC =

N0

D3

w

N 0e cD dD = w

6

6

w N 0 3! w N 0

=

6 c4

c4

De

3 cD

dD

Vt = D

(100 cm)4

(1000 kg m ) (0.08 cm )

1 m 4 1000 g

=

4

1 kg

-1 4 (1000 mm)

(2 mm )

1 m4

= 1.57 g m -3

-3

dynamical factors. The simplest models tend to be

proportional to the cloud thickness, e.g.:

Vup = K Z ;

The DSD can also be used in the calculation of the

precipitation rate leaving the cloud base by considering the

fact that the relative fall velocity of a drop is given by the

dierence between the terminal velocity and the updraft

velocity: (Vt -Vup) and that only drops that have a positive fall

velocity (i.e. that can overcome the updraft) will actually

contribute to the flux leaving the cloud base. Given this, the

precipitation leaving the cloud base can be expressed as:

D3

Pb =

N(D)[Vt (D) Vup ]dD

6

Dup

Z = cloud thickness

(5.3.7)

(5.3.7) must be estimated or specified.

cubic meter of air in the cloud.

(5.3.6)

(5.3.5)

To compute the precipitation that reaches the surface

one needs to account for the sub-cloud evaporation from

falling drops. This has two impacts: i) a critical diameter (Dc)

exists below which all drops will evaporate and ii) a fraction

of mass from the droplets with D > Dc will also be lost (due

to partial evaporation). To account for these, a modified

integral can be used to get the surface precipitation (P):

P=

Dmin

D3

X(D)

N(D)[Vt (D) Vup ]dD

6

(5.3.8)

1984) that varies between 0 and 1 (and is generally a function

of drop size diameter) and the lower integration limit is given

by:

140

(5.3.9)

contribute to the precipitation flux reaching the surface are

included. Note that not all water leaving the cloud base will

reach the surface, which is confirmed by the fact that

Equations (5.3.5) and (5.3.8) imply that P is less than or

equal to Pb.

To summarize the sequence of events that produce

precipitation (for warm clouds):

1. Moist air is lifted (q = const.) and cooled at the dry

adiabatic lapse rate

2. Condensation occurs at the cloud base or LCL (q = qs)

3. Additional uplift by the updraft causes parcel to cool at the

moist adiabatic lapse rate (and maintains q = qs with qs

decreasing)

4. Droplet growth occurs via diusional condensation

5. Falling drops overcome updraft velocity and grow due to

collision/coalescence mechanism

6. Droplets leave cloud base where they enter a sub-saturated

environment that starts to evaporate water from droplet

surface (via diusional mechanism)

7. Those droplets that survive the path to the surface (i.e.

dont fully evaporate) contribute to the surface precipitation

flux

E XAMPLE 5.3.2

Estimate the cloud-base precipitation rate (in

mm/hr) for the cloud described in Example 5.3.1.

First assume the prevailing updraft velocity is

negligible and for simplicity that the terminal

velocity has a linear form as in Equation (5.3.6)

with a multiplicative parameter: 1 x 103 s-1.

Qualitatively, how would the answer change if the

prevailing updraft velocity were 0.5 m/s?

Qualitatively, how would the precipitation rate at

the surface dier from that at the cloud base?

The precipitation rate for negligible updraft velocity is

given by:

Pb =

D3

cD

N 0e [D]dD = N 0 e cDD 4 dD

6

6

0

4!

1

N 0 5 = 4 N 0 5

6

c

c

4

4 (100 cm)

= 4 (0.08 cm )

(1000 s 1 )

4

1m

1

5

1 5 (1000 mm)

(2 mm )

1 m5

1000 mm 3600 s

= 3.14 10 6 m s 1

= 11.3 mm h -1

1m

1h

=

141

the integrand and lower integration limit will change.

The lower limit is increased in order to not include the

smaller droplets that will be blown upward by the

updraft, i.e.:

Vup

0.5 m s -1

Dup =

=

= 0.5 mm

1000 s -1

The cloud base precipitation would then be obtained by:

D3

Pb =

N 0e cD [D Vup ]dD

6

Dup

subtraction ofVup and the integration range will be less

as well. Both factors will reduce the amount of cloud

base precipitation. Note that this integral cannot be as

easily evaluated as the one where updraft is neglected. It

has to be done via integration by parts or done

numerically, i.e. using the trapezoidal rule.

If sub-cloud evaporation was also included, the integrand

would be further reduced (mass lost to evaporation) so

that the surface precipitation will be even less than the

answers obtained above. In the limit of saturated subcloud air, the evaporation would be negligible and the

surface precipitation would equal that at the cloud base.

It should be noted that the above description strictly

applies to warm cloud processes. In cold clouds (where

temperatures reach freezing) the basic concepts are the same,

with a few modifications. First, a cold cloud generally consists

of (at least initially) a mixture of ice crystals, super-cooled

liquid droplets, and vapor. The ice crystals can take on a

variety of shapes/sizes as discussed in more detail in the next

chapter. The presence of super-cooled liquid occurs as a result

of the ineciency of homogeneous freezing of existing liquid

droplets that are lifted into the cold region of the cloud. An

additional process occurs in cold clouds as a result of

dierences in the saturated vapor pressure over bulk water vs.

bulk ice as given by their respective Clausius-Clapeyron

equations (Equations (2.4.5) and (2.4.6) respectively). Droplet

or crystal growth/decay is driven by gradients in vapor

pressure between the surface of the hydrometeor and the

ambient cloud air. For sub-freezing temperatures the

saturated vapor pressure over liquid water is higher than that

over ice. So for the same ambient vapor pressure (and same

size liquid and ice hydrometeors), the vapor pressure gradient

will often be away from the liquid droplet and toward the ice

crystal. The end-result is that liquid droplets will decay via

diusion and ice crystals will grow. Depending on the time

scale, this will ultimately lead to growth of ice crystals at the

expense of supercooled liquid droplets. For cold clouds, falling

crystals will collide and form conglomerated crystals (e.g.

snowflakes), and will melt and/or sublimate in the subsaturated cloud layers.

142

S ECTION 4

Meteorology of Precipitation

The previous two sections highlighted the need for an

uplift mechanism to initiate cloud/precipitation processes.

These mechanisms are generally the result of large-scale

meteorological processes, some of which are directly connected

to the general circulation features discussed in Chapter 4.

Here we will focus on the qualitative description of the four

main mechanisms that provide vertical uplift in the

atmosphere.

The first mechanism involves large-scale horizontal

convergence (Figure 5.6). This consists of large-scale air

masses of similar thermal characteristics coming together at

the surface and being forced upward as a result of mass

conservation. The best example of this is the ITCZ which is

the coming together of the surface branches of the Hadley

cells. As mentioned in Chapter 5, the Hadley cells are a strong

and persistent feature of the atmospheric general circulation.

This uplift is the chief mechanism of tropical clouds near the

equator, is global in extent, and occurs throughout the year

(with seasonal shifts north/south of the equator). Of

particular note is the fact that water vapor is plentiful in the

tropics due to the large amount of net radiation near the

equator that drives evaporation. This combined with the

F IGURE 5.6 Schematic showing large-scale horizontal convergence leading to uplift. This mechanism is most likely to occur

at the ITCZ and/or in tropical low-pressure systems (copyright

Pearson Prentice Hall, 2005).

4.4).

Another form of relatively large-scale convergence in the

tropics can occur in conjunction with a so-called tropical

depression. A tropical depression simply refers to an area of

relatively low atmospheric pressure. While there are persistent

highs and lows associated with the general circulation

described above (Figure 4.12), they also occur intermittently

in space and time simply due to semi-random motions and

waves in the atmospheric fluid. At latitudes of +/- 5-20

latitude the Coriolis force is strong enough that cyclonic flow

patterns can form around these lows (counterclockwise in the

143

hurricane-facts.com/hurricane-facts.jpg).

the low pressure center. The convergence is similar to that at

the ITCZ in the sense that the air masses converging are of

similar thermal characteristics. Depending on the prevailing

conditions, these cyclonic storms may quickly dissipate or

grow in strength to ultimately form hurricanes (Figure 5.7).

Unlike the ITCZ, these cyclones generally migrate significantly

over the course of the life-cycle of the storm, often moving to

higher latitudes and gaining in strength over the relatively

warm ocean. Many of the largest storms and extreme events

that occur in such places as the Southeastern U.S. are due to

Atlantic_hurricane_tracks.jpg).

For example, the tracks of all classified hurricanes in the

North Atlantic between 1851-2005 are shown in Figure 5.8.

The largest storms tend to be seasonal with hurricane season

in the Northern Atlantic occurring between July and

November, with a strong maximum in August/September

when oceanic temperatures are at their peak. Note that the

peak in sea surface temperature occurs after the peak in solar

radiation input due to the thermal inertia of the oceans

(resulting from the high heat capacity of water). Tropical

144

the order of several days to a week depending on the

prevailing conditions.

A second uplift mechanism, that occurs mostly in

midlatitude regions, is that associated with frontal

convergence. As the name suggests, it too involves the

convergence of air masses, but with the converging air masses

having dierent thermal characteristics (temperatures). Colder

air masses originate at high latitudes, while warmer air masses

originate at lower latitudes. They often come together in

midlatitudes as a result of the horizontal eddies described in

regions and is associated with horizontal eddies (copyright Pearson Prentice Hall, 2005).

F IGURE 5.10 Schematic showing typical horizontal and vertical scales of a warm front (from sci.uidaho.edu/scripter/geog100/lect/

05-atmos-water-wx/05-part-7-atmos-lifting-fronts/05-30-front-warm-diag.j

pg).

occurrence is highest in the winter season when the thermal

contrast between polar and tropical/midlatitude air is largest.

A front is simply an interface (actually a strong temperature

gradient) between the two converging air masses (Figure 5.9).

While both air masses are generally moving, one usually

overtakes the other (i.e. has a higher velocity). A front is

labeled a cold front when the cold air is overtaking the warm

or vice versa for a warm front. The uplift mechanism is driven

by buoyancy. Warm air is less dense than cold air. Hence

when they come together the warm air will rise over the cold.

It is this deflection of air upward that initiates cloud and

precipitation formation.

The dierences between cold and warm fronts are not

trivial as they can lead to significantly dierent cloud and

145

Frontal systems are often shown schematically on surface

weather maps (Figures 5.12 and 5.13), where dierent colors/

symbols are used to denote the type of front. Note that the

systems tend to form via cyclogenesis where cyclonic/anticyclonic motions centered around highs or lows initiate

movement of air masses. In addition to warm and cold fronts,

stationary fronts (where there is no relative motion of one air

mass to the other) or occluded fronts (where one front is

overtaken by another) often occur before the frontal storm

schematics of a typical warm and cold front respectively. In a

warm front, the overtaking warm air tends to rise above the

cold air mass with a gentle slope in the vertical interface

between the two air masses (i.e. on the order of 1:150). This

tends to lead to relatively small uplift velocities and interfaces

that can stretch over more than 1000 km (Figure 5.10). To

first order, weaker uplift velocities lead to less droplet growth

and therefore weaker precipitation intensities. Hence, warm

fronts are expected to have potentially wide spread cloud

formation, often ahead of the location of the front at the

surface, but with lower intensity precipitation. In the case of

cold fronts, the overtaking cold air backs up as warm air is

forced to rise. This generally leads to a more abrupt interface

(i.e. a slope on the order of 1:75) with higher uplift velocities.

The result is generally more localized cloud formation of more

significant vertical extent, behind the location of the front at

the surface, and with higher intensity precipitation.

types of air masses (c/m = continental/maritime; P/T = polar/

tropical (from sci.uidaho.edu/scripter/geog100/lect/05-atmos-water-wx

/05-part-8-midlat-cyclones/05-31-midlatitude-wave-cyclone.jpg).

146

Pearson Prentice Hall, 2005).

fronts and high/low pressure zones.

typically occur over the course of several days to a week and

provide the primary mechanism for winter-time precipitation

in many of the midlatitude regions of the globe.

A third mechanism of vertical uplift is the result of air

masses flowing over topography of significant relief, called

orographic uplift (Figure 5.14). The mechanism is simply

mechanical. Either due to local or large-scale atmospheric flow

patterns, air parcels near the surface are forced to rise due to

the solid lower boundary condition. Once lifted, the typical

thermodynamical processes occur, i.e. adiabatic cooling,

followed by potential condensation, cloud formation and

windward side of the mountain are forced down the

leeward side back to the surface. An important point is that

the adiabatic process is reversible, i.e. while it provides a

cooling mechanism on the way upward, it provides a warming

mechanism on the way downward. Also, the downward motion

(which warms the parcel) will not involve condensation and

therefore will occur at the dry adiabatic rate over the entire

descent. Whether or not clouds or rain will actually form

depends on three factors: i) the humidity of the surface air, ii)

the temperature of the surface air, and iii) the amount of

elevation change associated with the topography. If there is

little to no water vapor in the surface air, then no amount of

lifting will cool the parcel suciently to be able to squeeze out

enough water to generate clouds and/or precipitation.

Depending on the specific humidity and temperature of the air

and the Clausius-Clapeyron equation, one can easily

147

condensation. Given the surface air characteristics, the

magnitude of the elevation change (in combination with the

dry adiabatic lapse rate) will exactly determine whether

condensation will occur. In the case of small topographic

relief, the cooling may not be enough to cause condensation.

If conditions are favorable (i.e. humid air combined with

large topographic features), then condensation will occur at

some height above the surface (generally below the

topographic peak). Cooling up to that level (the LCL) will be

at the dry adiabatic lapse rate, while lifting to the top of the

mountain will cause cooling at the moist (saturated) adiabatic

lapse rate. In cases where the prevailing wind is in a given

direction for most of the year, a particular rain shadow eect

is typically seen where the windward side of the mountain

experiences a relatively humid climate, while the leeward side

experiences a much drier climate. The mechanism for this is

caused by two factors: i) water is left behind on the windward

side in the form of clouds/precipitation and ii) while the

ascending air cooled at the dry adiabatic rate for only a

portion of the ascent, the descending air will warm at the dry

adiabatic rate for the whole descent. In the special case of no

condensation, then one would expect the windward and

leeward surface air to have the exact same temperature and

specific humidity. But in the more general case where

condensation occurs, the leeward side surface air will have less

specific humidity (due to condensate left behind) and will be

warmer. Both of these factors cause a decrease in relative

humidity on the leeward side. Many mountainous regions of

Mountains, Himalayas, Andes, etc. experience orographic

precipitation as a large portion of their annual totals.

An example of orographic eects and rain shadow can

easily be seen in Figure 5.15 which shows estimates of the

annual precipitation totals for the Hawaiian islands. The

latitude of Hawaii puts it in the trajectory of the trade winds

which blow consistently throughout the year in an easterly

direction. The Hawaiian islands are surrounded by moist

precipitation.

148

topographic relief. The persistent trade winds move the moist

air up and over the islands showing a distinct rain shadow

eect. For example, in the big island of Hawaii, areas of the

windward (in this case eastern) side experience over 8 meters

of rainfall per year, while some of the coastal regions on the

leeward side experience less than 25 cm of rainfall (less than

the mean annual rainfall in Los Angeles). As one would

expect, this stark dierence in rainfall has significant

implications on other aspects of the climate and surface

hydrology. Most notably one can see the dierences in the

Hawaii showing the arid climate as indicated by the lack of

vegetation. This region is in relatively close proximity to the location shown in Figure 5.16.

Hawaii showing the humid climate as indicated by the lush

vegetation.

into a valley situated on the north eastern coast, while Figure

5.17 is looking down toward the north western coast. The

dierences in vegetation, which occur over a relatively short

geographic distance, are the direct consequence of orographic

precipitation patterns which are responsible for producing

significantly dierent climates.

The fourth and final mechanism responsible for uplift is

usually referred to as thermal convection. This mechanism

149

radiation (during the day) heats the surface much more

quickly than the overlying air (Figure 5.18). This is because

the air is relatively transparent to solar radiation, while the

surface is essentially opaque with a high absorptivity. The air

in direct contact with the surface (which is heated via

conduction with the surface) is thereby generally warmer than

the overlying air, which sets up an instability. Warmer air has

a positive buoyancy that will cause it to rise as part of a socalled thermal. This phenomenon can often be seen on a hot

summer day where thermal bubbles of air can be seen in the

distance rising from the surface. Evaporation is often

mechanism (copyright Pearson Prentice Hall, 2005).

combined with the water vapor leads to cloud formation.

Thermal convection is often relatively localized in space and

has a strong diurnal cycle. The surface has thermal inertia so

that it takes several hours of heating to generate a large

instability which explains why convection often takes place in

the early or late afternoon. Additionally, the instability

generally causes convective events to have significantly higher

uplift velocities than the other mechanisms discussed above.

These strong updrafts often lead to tall cumulus clouds

(Figure 5.19; sometimes extending to the top of the

troposphere) that lead to relatively short-duration highintensity storms (often associated with thunder and lightning).

A final point that is important to remember is that the

mechanisms have been described here in isolation, but real

storms, especially those related to extreme events, may be

combinations of several mechanisms. For example it is not

uncommon for thermal convection events to occur in

mountainous areas during summer-time, where slope/aspect

may dictate spatial patterns with areas of increased solar

radiative heating of the surface (which will cause thermal

convection) combined with a background uplift due to

orographic eects. Another example would be winter-time

frontal events which then interact with surface terrain to

enhance cloud formation and precipitation. So while it is

convenient to conceptualize these mechanisms independently,

it is often the interaction between them that leads to

significant cloud formation and precipitation events.

150

E XAMPLE 5.4.1

Three islands have peak altitudes of 510 m, 1020

m, and 1530 m corresponding respectively to

pressures of 950, 900, and 850 mb. Each island

experiences a prevailing wind with surface air

having a temperature of 28 degrees Celsius and

specific humidity of 12 g/kg. The air is lifted up

and over the peak of the island before returning

to sea level on the leeward side. Which, if any, of

the three islands would be expected to have

orographic clouds?

the peak will have saturated yet as a result of adiabatic

cooling. If so, then clouds will have formed at some

altitude on the windward side. If not, then no clouds will

form anywhere on the windward side. The dry adiabatic

temperature changes from sea-level to the peak for each

island is easily obtained from the dry adiabatic lapse

rate and are: 4.98 K, 9.97 K, and 14.95 K for the

shortest to tallest island respectively. Hence the

respective temperatures at the top of each island are:

296.2 K, 291.2 K, and 286.2 K respectively. The

saturated specific humidity can be evaluated at each

peak as:

151

q s,peak1 =

es (Tpeak1 )

p peak1

# 2.5 10 6 J/kg #

&&

1

1

(611 Pa)exp %

%

((

461

J/kg/K

273.16

K

296.2

K

$

''

$

= 0.622

95000 Pa

= 18.7 g/kg

q s,peak 2 =

es (Tpeak 2 )

p peak 2

# 2.5 10 6 J/kg #

&&

1

1

(611 Pa)exp %

%

((

$ 461 J/kg/K $ 273.16 K 291.2 K ''

= 0.622

90000 Pa

= 14.5 g/kg

q s,peak 3 =

es (Tpeak 3 )

p peak 3

= 0.622

# 2.5 10 6 J/kg #

&&

1

1

(611 Pa)exp %

%

((

$ 461 J/kg/K $ 273.16 K 286.2 K ''

= 11.0 g/kg

85000 Pa

peak has a saturated specific humidity lower than the

surface value. Hence as the surface air parcel is lifted

over either of the first two islands, no condensation will

occur. Only the tallest island would be expected to have

orographically generated clouds.

152

S ECTION 5

Precipitation Climatology

and Extremes

Of particular interest to hydrologists is the expected

(climatological) precipitation, which relates directly to water

supply issues, and extreme precipitation (both positive and

negative), which relates directly to flooding or drought. Here

we focus on a brief summary of climatology and extremes.

The climatology of precipitation is simply the long-term

average. As such it tends to simply be an expression of the

typical mechanisms described above that occur over a given

region. Movie 5.1 shows an animation of global monthly

average water vapor (left panel) and precipitation (right

panel) from 2002-2012 from various data sources. First and

foremost, precipitation requires the presence of water vapor as

a source of condensate. This is clearly shown as there is a high

correlation between the two maps. However, precipitation also

requires the presence of an uplift mechanism (described in the

previous section) and other microphysical processes. Some of

these large-scale mechanisms can clearly be seen, most

notably in the form of the ITCZ. It should be noted that the

animation and other climatologies described below, especially

at global scales, rely on models and remote sensing data for

many areas since the in-situ network is sparse.

Figure 5.20 shows a 30-year climatology for annual

average precipitation based on satellite-borne measurements

(from earthobservatory.nasa.gov/GlobalMaps/).

these results, the average annual global mean precipitation is

approximately 2.7 mm/day (975 mm/year), which is relatively

consistent with the global average of 1 meter/year described

in Chapter 1. Of particular note is the clear signature of the

ITCZ as a result of the Hadley cells (large-scale convergence)

centered around the equator, where annual mean rates of up

to 10 mm/day are seen. Localized areas of peak rainfall are

seen over India and the Indian Ocean (monsoon system), the

Amazon, and other places. The signature of the high-pressure

zones is seen in the map around +/- 30 latitude (i.e. see

correlation between Figure 4.12 and Figure 5.20), with a

secondary peak at higher latitudes.

These large-scale climatological features can also be seen

by taking the zonal average, which is show in Figure 5.21, and

153

F IGURE 5.21 Zonal average of satellite-derived global precipiF IGURE 5.20 Global precipitation climatology as diagnosed

from satellite data from 1979-2010 (from NASA).

The peak zonal average is almost 6 mm/day centered around

the equator. In the areas of high-pressure zone, the

precipitation dips significantly below the global average. It

rises above the global average at higher latitudes before

dropping o considerably above +/- 60 latitude. The

latitudinal pattern is roughly symmetric, with asymmetry

primarily a result of the asymmetric distribution of land

masses across the globe (and between northern and southern

hemispheres). The pattern is essentially a composite of where

water is available, combined with where persistent uplift

mechanisms exist.

To zoom in from the global scale, Figure 5.22 shows a

30-year climatology for the annual average precipitation over

distribution as a function of latitude (from NASA).

the meteorological processes that occur with regularity in a

given region. For example, in the Western U.S. there is the

clear signature of orographic eects (Sierra Nevada, Cascade,

and Rocky Mountain ranges). Much of this precipitation falls

as snow as a result of frontal winter-time storms that result

from cold systems moving southwesterly from the northern

Pacific. In the non-mountainous regions, precipitation is

generally suppressed due to the persistent presence of a highpressure cell o the coast of the Western U.S. during the

summer. The midwestern region tends to have higher

precipitation due to a combination of winter-time frontal

systems along with summer-time thunderstorms as a result of

convective activity. The Eastern U.S. precipitation patterns

154

continental U.S.

combined with convection and tropical storms (and sometimes

hurricanes) in the summer.

Extreme precipitation is of interest primarily with

respect to flooding and droughts. Flooding generally needs to

be mitigated via the the design of structures like levees,

detention basins or reservoirs, etc. Droughts are generally

mitigated by building supply reservoirs that can store and

supply water over multiple years to buer against the

possibility of dry years. In terms of extreme precipitation (i.e.

large precipitation events), the physics are the same, but often

involve some rare set of circumstances leading to above

average water vapor, uplift velocities, and hydrometeor

growth. In the case of droughts, the mechanisms are less well

known. In some cases they can be simply the result of the

natural variability in the system, but are also thought to be

related to feedbacks in the climate system, where a given state

(i.e. dry) is self-sustaining. A simple example of a proposed

feedback is that if there is initially a negative soil moisture

anomaly (i.e. below average conditions), this will lead to less

available water for evaporation. The reduced evaporation will

lead to reduced water vapor, which will lead to less

precipitation. Finally, the reduced precipitation will lead to

less soil moisture. Such a positive feedback mechanism is one

hypothesis for such sustained drought events. In general,

extreme events (both flood and drought) are much less

predictable than climatology.

In describing extreme precipitation events, three

parameters are generally of interest: precipitation intensity,

storm duration, and frequency of recurrence. It should also be

noted that extreme implies some relative comparison to

climatology (which varies in space/time), i.e. what might be

an extreme event at one location may not be at another.

Analysis of extreme events is therefore generally tied to a

particular region.

To put extreme events into some context, Figure 5.23

shows an example of extreme precipitation events from across

the globe in terms of varying duration and intensity. In

particular, the data points are those events with the

155

orography. What is interesting is that the data points fall

roughly along an empirical envelope of the form:

R = 425D 0.47

(5.5.1)

F IGURE 5.23 Maximum amounts of recorded rainfall vs. duration (adapted from Dingman, 2008). Blue dots indicate actual data

points from locations across the globe and the red line is based

on Equation (5.5.1).

scale ranges from minutes to months (up to two years).

Examples include: 305 mm in 42 minutes (in Holt, Missouri

(USA) on June 22, 1947), 1.87 m in 24 hours (in Cilaos,

Reunion on March 15-16, 1952), and 22.5 m in six months (in

Cherrapunji, India in 1861). Because these are extreme events,

they are rare. Also, dierent storms are often associated with

dierent physical mechanisms. For example, the Holt,

Missouri storm was a supercell thunderstorm (i.e. thermal

convection) combined with a frontal system, the Reunion

storm was a hurricane combined with the islands orography,

For design purposes, most local codes specify a particular

hypothetical design storm with a characteristic duration

and frequency (return period). For a given region, these

specifications define a particular intensity for which to use in

the design. Example maps can be found in Dingman (2005)

which provides so-called intensity-duration-frequency (IDF)

maps of intensities and durations for dierent return period

(frequency) storms. The return period (i.e. T = 100-year

storm) indicates the average recurrence interval (i.e. once

every T years). Such design storms can then be used in

rainfall-runo models (Chapter 10) for predictions of design

runo hydrographs or peak flows resulting from these design

events.

156

S ECTION 6

Precipitation Measurement

Climatology maps and IDF curves used for design

mentioned in the previous section are ultimately determined

via measurements of precipitation. The traditional method of

measuring precipitation is via a rain gauge, which is simply a

vessel open to the atmosphere that periodically or

continuously records the quantity of water it collects. Figure

5.24 shows an example of a rain gauge. Gauges come in a

variety of forms including: i) non-recording gauges (i.e.

collects cumulative amount that must be measured manually),

ii) weighing-recording gauges (vessel sits on a scale that

measures the cumulative amount of water via its weight), iii)

tipping-bucket gauges (water is routed to a small vessel of

known volume that tips when filled and records each tipping),

iv) optical gauges (measures disturbance of an infrared beam

as a result of passing drops), as well as other varieties. These

gauges are of varying complexity (and therefore cost) and

provide varying information. The first two gauge types listed

above provide cumulative amounts (one manual and one

automated), but do not provide rainfall intensities (i.e. rain

per unit time), while the tipping bucket, optical, and other

types provide the actual rainfall intensities. In using an in-situ

gauge one does not want the gauge to interfere with the

variable it is trying to measure. For this reason, many gauges

have wind shields in order to minimize the prevention of

raindrop collection due to turbulent flow around the gage

(Figure 5.24).

A key aspect to remember is that a rain gauge is a pointscale measurement. What is generally of most interest is the

spatial field, i.e. the spatial distribution of precipitation, or

the spatial average (mean areal precipitation). If a network of

gauges are deployed with sucient spatial density, then it

would be expected to provide an accurate representation of

the spatial field, or at least its mean. Sucient density in this

context is not an independent variable, but is tightly coupled

to the variability of the underlying field. For example, if a

field has no spatial variability (i.e. is constant in space) then

157

Precipitation however is a variable with a high degree of

spatial variability, thus requiring a high density network to

characterize it. However the number of gauges deployed is

limited due to both instrumentation and operating and

maintenance costs.

precipitation falls as snow (i.e. in the Western U.S.), is much

more limited than in other areas. The source of rain gauge

data is most commonly government agencies, examples of

which in the U.S. include the National Weather Service

(NWS), National Climate Data Center (NCDC), etc.

Figure 5.25 shows the global rain gauge network. The

key point is that the vast majority of gauges are in developed

countries (U.S., Europe, Japan, Australia) due to costs. So

when large-scale hydrology problems are of interest, this lack

of in-situ gauges can be a factor in characterizing

precipitation. While the U.S. has far and away the largest

network, what is not obvious from the figure is that even in

the U.S. the gage network is insucient to fully characterize

precipitation. Note for example that the number of gauges in

A classical problem in hydrology is the calculation of

mean areal precipitation (MAP), i.e. over a watershed, from a

set of discrete gauge measurements (Figure 5.26). This can be

defined mathematically as:

(yellow dots) of precipitation gauges.

F IGURE 5.26 Illustrative example of Thiessen polygon construction -- basin with gauge locations.

158

= 1 p(x,y,t)dx dy

P(t)

A

A

(5.6.1)

taking place (i.e. the watershed area), p(x,y) is the true

precipitation field and x and y are spatial coordinates. It

should be noted that the true precipitation field is never

known, instead it is only sampled at select (gauge) locations:

pg=p(xi, yi, t). The primary methodologies used to estimate

the MAP from the gauge data most commonly use a weighted

average. A general weighted average equation can be written

as:

often inaccurate for representing MAP. One would expect it to

be accurate if the gauges are relatively evenly distributed over

the domain. But in many cases, often for practical reasons

(i.e. accessibility), gauges are unevenly distributed. In such

cases it is best to use a weighted average that takes this into

account.

In hydrology, one method often used to do this is a

graphical method called the Thiessen polygon method. The

graphical version aims to sketch out the area closest to each

= w p (t)

P(t)

g g

g =1

(5.6.2)

associated with gauge g and G is the total number of gages.

The weights must generally satisfy (assuming unbiased

inputs):

G

w

g=1

= 1 and wg 1

(5.6.3)

average, in which case: wg=1/G (i.e. each gauge is weighted

equally). In this case:

= 1

P(t)

G

p (t)

g =1

(5.6.4)

159

way the method can be thought of as a nearest-neighbor

method which can also be easily automated via a simple

program (as will be described in more detail below). The

Thiessen polygon method uses a weighting scheme with:

wg=ag/A, where ag is the subregion centered around each

gauge g that is closest to that gauge. The sub-areas can be

constructed via a simple algorithm:

1. Adjacent gauges are connected to form a network of

triangles (Figures 5.27 and 5.28). These triangles are often

border connectors between adjacent gauges are

straightforward, but some interior connectors may seem

ambiguous at first. The shorter distanced connectors are

generally those that should be used in the construction of

the TIN (Figure 5.27, 5.28).

2. Perpendicular bisectors (i.e. at the midpoint) are drawn for

each connector in the TIN. If being done graphically, it is

important to make sure to carefully draw the perpendicular

F IGURE 5.29 Illustrative example of Thiessen polygon construction -- perpendicular bisector construction.

160

properly constructed, the bisectors will meet in the interior

of each TIN (Figure 5.29).

3. The bisectors need to be connected and cleaned-up to form

the irregular (Thiessen) polygons surrounding each gage

(Figure 5.30).

4. Check the constructed polygons to make sure they indeed

map out the nearest neighborhood areas. A simple check

can be done by randomly selecting a few points surrounding

F IGURE 5.30 Illustrative example of Thiessen polygon construction -- final Thiessen polygons.

appropriate area for the closest gauge.

5. Finally, determine the area surrounding each gage. When

done graphically, this is most commonly done using a

transparent graph paper overlay which allows for counting

squares within each polygon (Figure 5.31). The weighted

average is then given by:

ag

G

1

=

P(t)

A pg (t) = A ag pg (t)

g =1

g =1

G

(5.6.5)

F IGURE 5.31 Illustrative example of Thiessen polygon construction -- polygon area computation.

161

Equation (5.6.5), they can simply be replaced by the total

number of squares and number of squares in each sub-area

respectively.

Note that it is common to only account for the sub-areas

within the overall domain and include gauges that fall outside

the domain (provided they map to some nearby portion of the

domain). For example, in Figure 5.31, two of the gauges are

outside the watershed, but map to sub-areas a1 and a3. It

should also be noted that the Thiessen method only need be

done once. Given a time series of precipitation at the gages

(pg(t)) the time series of MAP uses the same weights at each

time step. Hence the Thiessen polygon can be thought of as a

pre-processing step to get MAP from gauge data. The method

may then be used to get storm-scale MAP, annual average

MAP, etc. That said, one can imagine for large domains with

a large number of gauges, the graphical method leaves much

to be desired. Even if the TIN and bisectors are drawn

accurately, the counting squares method is highly tedious

and prone to error.

You should be able to convince yourself (as mentioned

earlier) when looking at Figure 5.31 that the Thiessen polygon

method is nothing more than assigning a nearest-neighbor

gage to each point in space. The weighting scheme is the same

as assigning the gauge value to each point within the

surrounding sub-area and then averaging all pixels. One can

take advantage of this by creating a simple algorithm that

takes as inputs: geographic coordinates of a set of gauges and

geographic coordinates of the domain of interest (i.e. a

polygon construction over a large basin.

to each gauge and finally assigns the nearest gauge to each

pixel. This has been done in the MOD-WET code:

thiessen.m. A simple synthetic example is shown in Figure

5.32 for the Colorado River basin and a set of nearby gauges

(left panel). The above described algorithm is applied and

yields the set of Thiessen polygons shown in the right panel.

Beyond visualizing the polygons, the algorithm outputs the

number of pixels associated with each gauge and therefore can

easily be used to apply Equation (5.6.5) to compute the MAP.

Such an automated approach is most commonly used in

realistic problems, but the graphical method is useful to

conceptualize how the method works. It should be noted that

other methods are often used to estimate MAP, which can

162

and other methods (Dingman, 2008).

E XAMPLE 5.6.1

For the basin and gauge distribution shown in

Figure 5.26, assume the measured rainfall for a

given storm at gauges 1-5 was: 15 mm, 10 mm,

14 mm, 11 mm, and 10 mm respectively.

Estimate the mean areal precipitation for the

storm using the Theissen polygon approach.

Compare the answer to that obtained from an

arithmetic average estimate.

The first step in the Thiessen polygon approach is the

construction of the polygons themselves. This has been

done in Figures 5.27-5.31. The relative areas can be

determined by counting the squares in Figure 5.31. A

graphical estimate generally will contain some error due

to partial squares. The number of squares associated

with each gage is approximately (rounded to nearest

square): 18, 63, 29, 61, and 52, for a total of 223 squares.

Hence the mean areal precipitation estimate is:

1 !

P =

(18)(15) + (63)(10) + (29)(14) + (61)(11) + (52)(10)#$

"

223

= 11.2 mm

The arithmetic average is instead:

1

P = !"(15) + (10) + (14) + (11) + (10)#$

5

= 12. mm

In this case there is about a 7% dierence between the

two estimates. One would expect the Thiessen polygon

method to be a better one as it accounts for the relative

contribution of rainfall measured at each gage. In the

case where the Thiessen polygons have the same areas,

the two estimates would be the same.

So far the discussion of the measurement of precipitation

has been limited to in-situ measurements via gauges and

estimation of MAP using the Thiessen polygon method. As

alluded to above, the high degree of spatial variability in

precipitation fields makes it dicult for a sparse gauge

network to accurately sample the fields (even using the

Thiessen polygon method). A lack of representativeness in

gauge measurements will end up propagating to the MAP

estimates via Thiessen polygon or other methods. This has led

to a significant amount of research into how to better estimate

precipitation and its spatial structure.

Chief among these newer methods are those under the

category of remote sensing. Remote sensing is becoming

pervasive in hydrology as an enabling technology beyond just

precipitation estimation. It refers to methods used to measure

163

commonly done via the measurement of electromagnetic

radiation (and its implicit interactions with media) from

ground-based or satellite-based platforms. The primary benefit

of these techniques is that they explicitly map variables, thus

avoiding the point-sampling issues associated with in-situ

measurement. That said, there are generally other tradeos,

chief among them that in-situ provides a direct measurement,

measurement that must be used to infer the process of

interest.

One commonly used remote sensing technique for

precipitation estimation is ground-based RADAR (radio

detection and ranging). This method uses pulses of microwave

radiation emitted by a transmitter to probe the atmosphere

for clouds and precipitation (Figure 5.33). The basic idea is

that relatively large particles (or in this case hydrometeors) in

the atmosphere will significantly scatter the radiation, with a

measurable component backscattered to a receiver on the

platform. In simple terms, clear sky conditions will have little

to no backscatter, while an atmosphere populated by a

significant amount of hydrometeors will generate backscatter.

From this signal the precipitation can be inferred. The

microwave pulse and sensing the return signal.

of a single RADAR.

164

backscattered radiation in all directions, thus mapping out

precipitation patterns of the region. Movie 5.2 provides an

animation of the RADAR scanning process.

The measured quantity by the RADAR is the reflectivity

(Z), which can theoretically be related to the cloud properties

(specifically the drop size distribution as):

Z = D 6N(D)dD

(5.6.6)

units of mm6 m-3. As shown in Equation (5.3.5), the

precipitation rate (leaving the cloud base) can also be related

directly to the DSD so that generally a power law

relationships of the following form can be derived:

Z(x,y) = aP(x,y)b

(5.6.7)

cloud and other factors, but are such that reflectivity is an

increasing function of precipitation rate. In this context, the

reflectivity is often converted to a log-scale as decibels of Z

(dbZ) where dBZ=10 log10(Z), with Z in units of mm6 m-3.

The log-scale is useful since reflectivity can vary over many

orders of magnitude.

In the U.S., a network of RADAR (called NEXRAD)

stations have been installed to measure precipitation in realtime (Figure 5.34). Typically, a single NEXRAD station scans

the atmosphere within a couple hundred kilometers of the

brown areas are those with missing coverage.

mosaicked together. Coverage is pretty complete over the U.S.,

with the main holes being in mountain regions (Figure 5.34)

where the RADAR returns are not useful due to topographic

interference (referred to as ground clutter).

An example of a reflectivity snapshot from one of the

stations shown in Figure 5.34 is shown in Figure 5.35 (i.e.

Minot AFB in North Dakota). The station location is at the

center of the image and the scan provides a reflectivity map

centered on the station. In this particular case a storm system

is clearly seen. Areas of high reflectivity (up to 28 dBZ) occur

to the south east of the station where the storm is centered.

165

rainfall rates. The reflectivity map also illustrates the

underlying heterogeneity in the precipitation field and the

potential problems associated with MAP estimation from a

low density rain gauge network. RADAR provides a relatively

high resolution map of reflectivity (approximately 4-8 km

resolution). In the U.S., the NEXRAD network is becoming

more commonly used for real-time weather and flooding

characterization. An example of a composite image over the

U.S. from the RADAR network is shown in Figure 5.36.

However, much like the global rain gauge network, RADAR is

from composite mosaic of NEXRAD data.

developed countries.

from a single RADAR station (from wunderground.com).

To overcome the issues associated with ground-based

sensors (either gauge or RADAR) another method becoming

more common to hydrology is the use of satellite-based remote

sensing. Satellite-based sensors measure electromagnetic

radiation (either emitted by or reflected by the atmosphere

and surface) in various wavelengths. In principle, the same

concept used in NEXRAD can be used by mounting a

RADAR on a satellite, but to date only one such research

satellite (the Tropical Rainfall Measurement Mission

[TRMM]) exists. Instead, more common sensors are those

measuring passive microwave or infrared radiation emitted by

166

a variety of platforms including polar-orbiting satellites (with

passive microwave sensors), which sample a given region on

average once or twice a day, and geostationary satellites (with

visible and infrared sensors) that look down at a given region

more or less continuously. Many algorithms have been

developed to attempt to relate these measurements to

precipitation. One such product (the Global Precipitation

Climatology Project; Adler et al., 2003) is shown for a given

month in Figure 5.37. Based on the sensors used, the spatial

resolution can be quite coarse (tens to hundreds of kilometers)

and the temporal resolution is at best hourly. While these

methods can have a significant amount of uncertainty, they

are capable of capturing some of the key modes of variability

satellite-based remote sensing.

coverage. Figure 5.37 shows the expected patterns of high

precipitation near the equator, low precipitation regions in the

areas of high-pressure zones near +/- 30 degrees and

secondary precipitation peaks at higher latitudes, with

notably absent precipitation in areas where high-pressure

zones are located.

In summary it is important to keep in mind that while

we may be interested in getting the same variable (i.e. MAP),

dierent sensors are really seeing dierent things (often at

dierent spatial and temporal resolutions) as illustrated in

sensing precipitation.

167

their own error characteristics. Future operational estimates of

precipitation will likely be a combination of all these sensors

to take advantage of their strengths while minimizing their

weaknesses.

Z=

D N e

6

cD

dD = N 0

6!

c7

equation yields:

E XAMPLE 5.6.2

If a cloud is characterized by the MarshallPalmer (MP) drop size distribution, derive a

reflectivity vs. precipitation relationship in the

form of Equation (5.6.7) in terms of the

Marshall-Palmer parameters. In the derivation

use the cloud-base precipitation (which is what is

typically measured by the RADAR) and assume

updraft velocities are relatively small.

The cloud base precipitation under the assumptions

mentioned above is given by (from Example 5.3.2):

1

P = Pb = 4 N 0 5

c

Z = N0

6!

4 N 0

7 5

P 7 5

720N 0

(4 N )

7 5

P

7 5

i.e. where:

Z = N0

6!

(4 N )

7 5

P 7 5

;

7 5

b=

= aP b

with:

a=

720N 0

(4 N )

0

7

5

15

!

1$

c = # 4 N 0 &

P%

"

= 4 N 0

15

P 1 5

Equation (5.6.6)):

168

S ECTION 7

MOD-WET Codes

Relevant functions based on concepts introduced in

this chapter include:

Computation of mean areal precipitation using the Thiessen polygons:

compute_mean_precip_from_thiessen.m

Computation of saturated adiabatic lapse rate:

sat_adiabatic_lapse_rate.m

Automated Thiessen polygon construction:

thiessen.m

169

S ECTION 8

Conceptual Questions

1. If an air parcel is lifted upward by 1 km (without

condensation), by how much will its temperature change?

Will it be cooler or warmer? What is the rate at which it

changes temperature with height called?

2. Is the moist adiabatic lapse rate generally larger or smaller

than the dry adiabatic lapse rate?

3. What type of surface air parcel characteristics (in terms of

humidity and temperature) will be expected to have the

highest cloud base when lifted?

represents and how it can be used to determine various

characteristics of the cloud.

10. Describe the four basic mechanisms responsible for vertical

uplift in the atmosphere related to cloud formation/

precipitation.

11. Name the vertical uplift mechanism primarily responsible

for the precipitation climatology in the Sierra Nevada.

12. What mechanism/s are primarily responsible for uplift

(and hence cloud formation and precipitation) in the

midwestern U.S. Be specific in terms of season.

13. Where on the globe (latitudinally) is precipitation

generally largest? Explain why.

formation?

desert bands located? Explain why.

early in a cloud life-cycle?

estimating mean areal precipitation from gages.

later in a cloud life-cycle?

precipitation by RADAR.

8. What are the typical sizes (order of magnitude) of a CCN,

a cloud droplet, and a rain drop?

170

S ECTION 9

Sample Problems

Problem 5.1. Clouds typically contain a spectrum of drops

of varying diameters as a result of condensation and droplet

growth processes. The distribution of the number of droplets

within clouds as a function of drop size (diameter) is often

described by the Marshall-Palmer drop size distribution

(DSD).

a) Sketch the Marshall-Palmer DSD. According to this DSD,

what are the implied most probable and least probable drop

sizes? Is the location of the actual peak physically realistic?

b) Derive an expression for the total (integrated) number of

drops in a cloud as a function of the Marshall-Palmer DSD

parameter c. Based on your answer, what are the implications

on the total number of drops in a cloud as the average drop

diameter in the cloud increases?

c) Derive an expression for the total liquid water content in a

cloud (i.e. mass of liquid water per volume of air) assuming

spherical cloud droplets. This requires writing down the total

mass of drops of a given size, which is the product of the drop

size distribution and the mass of a single drop and then

integrating across all possible drop sizes. Hint: A useful

integral is:

n x

x

e dx =

0

n!

n+1

for a particular cloud with an average drop diameter of 0.4

mm.

e) Assuming the cloud is 3.5 km thick (and that the droplet

spectrum is uniform throughout the height of the cloud), how

much total liquid water (in kg m-2) is in the cloud?

f ) Based on your answer in part (e), what is the amount of

latent heat energy (in J m-2) associated with the vapor that

was condensed to form this cloud? Is this energy released into

or taken out of the atmosphere?

g) Assuming all of the cloud water ultimately fell and reached

the ground as precipitation, what would be the total amount

of precipitation in mm?

Problem 5.2. Assuming spherical droplets, the total amount

of precipitation (volume of water per unit ground area per

unit time) reaching the surface from a cloud is:

P=

Dmin

D3

X(D)N(D)

[VT (D) Vup ]dD

6

the volume of a drop of diameter D, VT(D) is the terminal

velocity (which is generally a function of drop size), and Vup is

the updraft velocity.

171

a) Write the full expression for the precipitation flux for the

simplified case of no sub-cloud evaporation, negligible updraft

velocity and a Marshall-Palmer DSD.

occurs, explain (qualitatively only) how you would expect the

precipitation rate to compare to the values above.

both kg m-2 s-1 and mm hr-1) with a Marshall-Palmer DSD at

the cloud base with a parameter value: c = 22 cm-1. For the

terminal velocity, assume the proportionality constant is 3050

s-1.

an established set of precipitation gages in the region. The

annual mean observed precipitation for each gage is listed in

the following table.

negligible sub-cloud evaporation), what does the precipitation

rate equal? Assume the cloud is 1000 m thick and the updraft

velocity proportionality coecient is equal to 6.8 km1/2 hr-1.

Qualitatively explain your result and how it compares to your

answer above. [Note: First, you will need to determine the

lower limit of the integral for this case. You can think about it

by analyzing the equation (it will be a function of the model

parameters) or by plotting the integrand and identifying

which diameter corresponds to the case where the integrand

goes from negative (updraft bigger than terminal velocity) to

positive (terminal velocity bigger than updraft velocity).

Second, while the equation with the non-zero lower integration

limit can be solved analytically (via integration by parts), you

can (much) more easily evaluate it numerically, i.e. using

numerical integration, e.g. with the trapezoidal method

being one approach. In MATLAB, you can use the trapz

function to perform this numerical integration].

arithmetic average approach.

b) Compute the areal average annual precipitation using a

Thiessen polygon approach by constructing the polygons by

172

STATION

1.1

1.7

1.3

1.8

1.9

2.3

hand and counting squares for each polygon area. Make sure

to be very precise in the construction of the polygons.

Consider only the area inside the basin for the weights.

c) Discuss the dierence in the two annual averages you find

for the watershed. Why are they dierent?

d) Which method do you think provides the most

representative mean areal precipitation estimate over the

basin? Why? So which method should generally be employed

for estimating mean areal precipitation?

Problem 5.4. Ground-based RADAR is now becoming more

commonly used in the U.S. to estimate precipitation. The

basis for this remote sensing technology is that microwave

pulses can be sent out into the atmosphere and are then

backscattered based on how many cloud/rain drops there are

in the field of view. From this backscattered power the rain

estimate precipitation from RADAR backscatter.

For a RADAR system, the reflectivity Z (expressed in units L3

(i.e. often as mm6 m-3)) is a measurable quantity that if

related to precipitation can be used to estimate it remotely.

a) Using the Marshall-Palmer distribution, integrate the

above equation to express Z in terms of c and N0.

b) To relate the reflectivity to precipitation, you need an

expression for precipitation in terms of the same drop size

distribution parameters. For simplicity, assume the

precipitation is reasonably approximated by:

D3

P = N(D)

[VT (D)]dD

6

0

which corresponds to the case where updraft velocity is small

relative to terminal velocity and sub-cloud evaporation is

negligible.

Using the Marshall-Palmer distribution and assuming the

terminal velocity is directly proportional to diameter, i.e.:

VT (D) = D

along with the simplifying assumption that terminal velocity

is much larger than updraft velocity (VT>> Vup) integrate the

above precipitation equation to express precipitation (P) in

terms of all other parameters. Rewrite the equation to express

c as a function of all other variables.

173

answer to part a) to express Z in terms of P and other

parameters in the following form:

Z = aP b

d) What is the theoretical value of the coecient b? What

terms make up the coecient a? For a cloud droplet terminal

velocity parameter of 3000 s-1, determine the constant a in

units of mm8/5 hr7/5. You should use the standard value for

the Marshall-Palmer distribution parameter N0.

e) Demonstrate that a=325 and b=7/5, if the units for Z are

mm6 m-3 and the input units of P are mm hr-1. In other words,

show that the following is true:

using Doppler radar to estimate the precipitation rate based

on the concepts described in the previous problem. The figure

below is a reflectivity map (dBZ) that was created using

Doppler radar for North Carolina on October 14, 2011 at 6:00

UTC. The circle on the map refers to the radars coverage

area.

a) Rewrite the equation derived in the previous problem so

that precipitation (in units of mm/hr) is a function of the

reflectivity in terms of dBZ.

map. Use the model you developed in the previous problem to

compute the estimated precipitation (in mm/hr)

corresponding to the observed reflectivity at this location.

c) The hourly mean areal precipitation, rate over a particular

domain for a given hour is often found to be much lower than

the maximum precipitation rate. What does that tell you

about the potential spatial variability of precipitation?

174

Z vs. P equation above, would you expect your estimates to

be an underestimate or overestimate of the amount of

precipitation measured on the ground? Explain.

reasonably assume that the weak trade winds lead to a very

small uplift velocity and that the high humidity tropical air

leads to negligible sub-cloud evaporation from the rain drops.

winds that lead to orographically induced clouds and

precipitation. The wind is such that air parcels at the surface

are forced up the eastern (windward) side of the island and

back down to the surface on the western (leeward) side of the

island. The incoming surface air on the eastern side of the

island is generally 32C with a relative humidity of 90%.

leeward (western side) of the island will be. Specifically, how

will the surface air temperature and relative humidity on the

leeward side compare to the surface air temperature and

relative humidity on the windward side? Justify how you

arrive at your answer.

the windward side of the island.

b) Under the simplifying assumption that the dew point

temperature is constant with altitude and that clouds will

form when the surface air parcels are cooled to that dew

point, at what height will clouds form on the windward side of

the island?

c) The persistent clouds that form typically have a drop size

distribution consistent with the Marshall-Palmer distribution

with an average drop diameter of 0.3 mm. Assume that the

terminal velocity of a raindrop is given by:

VT (D) = D;

= 3000 s 1

175

Chapter 6

Snow

Processes

S ECTION 1

Learning Objectives

By the time you finish this chapter you should be able to:

1. Define the surface energy balance and name and define the

various fluxes involved

2. Define and be able to compute snow porosity, liquid water

content, snow density, and snow water equivalent

based on the peak snow water equivalent and the amount

of cumulative energy that has been absorbed by the

snowpack

11. Understand and describe how variations in energy inputs

(especially due to topography) impact patterns of snow

and snowmelt over a basin

12. Understand and describe how vegetation impacts

snowpack evolution

4. Describe and sketch the key components of the water and

energy balance of a snowpack (at a point in space) over

the accumulation and melt seasons

5. Name and describe the primary snowpack metamorphism

processes

6. Name and describe the three phases of snowmelt and

why/when they occur

7. Estimate the energy input needed to complete the

warming phase

8. Estimate the energy input needed to complete the

ripening phase

9. Estimate the energy input needed to complete the output

phase

177

S ECTION 2

Balance

In moving from the previous chapters to the remaining

ones, we are shifting from the atmosphere to the surface and

sub-surface. One can think of the focus of the previous

chapters being largely on global hydrometeorology and the

primary forcing variables of surface hydrologic processes.

These are the net radiation, which drives the surface energy

budget, and precipitation, which drives the surface water

budget. The surface water and energy budgets are not only

relevant to snow processes, they are simply introduced here as

this is the first chapter dealing with the land surface. We will

see these again when discussing evaporation.

Net radiation at the surface is a continuous input in time

that can be either positive (i.e. a net energy input) or

negative (i.e. a net energy output). When it is positive, this

means the surface (either snow or vegetation/soil) is gaining

heat. The surface responds by dissipating this heat via several

mechanisms. If we consider an idealized surface (i.e flat/

homogeneous/infinitesimally thin with no heat storage; Figure

6.1) with net radiation input (Rn), the dissipation of energy is

accomplished via three primary mechanisms: a latent heat flux

(LE), which represents the energy associated with

vaporization of water/snow into vapor that is returned to the

atmosphere, sensible heat flux (H), which represents the

idealized surface. Direction of arrows shown represent a positive flux. The opposite direction would be indicated by a negative flux.

atmosphere, and ground (or surface) heat flux (G), which

represents energy conducted into the surface of the soil or

snow. For these fluxes to be in balance at the surface, we can

write:

Rn = LE + H + G

(6.2.1)

It is often said that the net radiation gets partitioned

into the other three fluxes on the right-hand-side. How it gets

partitioned is very much a function of the surface conditions

178

this equation is that LE and H are positive when away from

the surface (into the atmosphere) and G is positive when away

from the surface (into the ground/snow). The sensible heat

flux is proportional to the dierence in temperature between

the surface and overlying air (will be discussed in more detail

in Chapter 8) and is positive when the surface is warmer than

the overlying air. For snow, especially in the melt season, the

overlying air temperatures can be greater than the snow

temperature, meaning that H is negative (provides a source of

energy that ultimately partly contributes to melting of the

snowpack). Recall that the net radiation is itself made up of

shortwave and longwave fluxes (Equation (3.8.3)), where the

outgoing longwave flux depends on the temperature of the

surface. In this way, one can think of the net solar input and

incoming longwave as the real energy inputs to the system

and the outgoing longwave, latent, sensible, and ground heat

fluxes as the surface response to this input. One should also

keep in mind that implicit in the surface energy balance (SEB;

Equation (6.2.1)) is a time and space dependence of each

term. We saw previously that the incoming radiation can be

greatly impacted by terrain, albedo, and other factors that

vary in space and vary diurnally and seasonally in time. These

variabilities will propagate to the other terms in the SEB.

The latent heat flux notation (LE) is actually shorthand

for the latent heat of vaporization (or sublimation in the case

of ice/snow) multiplying the evaporation/sublimation flux, i.e.

LE = LvE or LE = LsE

(6.2.2)

density units (kg m-2 s-1). When multiplied by the units of the

latent heat of vaporization/fusion/sublimation (J kg-1), this

yields the appropriate units of W m-2. One can think of the

latent and sensible heat fluxes (as well as the outgoing

longwave flux) as cooling terms, as all three will act to reduce

the temperature of the surface. It turns out that evaporative

cooling (LE) is in fact the most ecient of these cooling

mechanisms so that if liquid water is prevalent at the surface,

a large fraction of the net radiation will go into vaporizing

water. The ground/surface heat flux (G), will conversely act

as a warming term that will conduct energy into the

underlying media (i.e. snow or soil) and warm it. It is

generally driven by temperature gradients between the surface

and sub-surface in the media. The temperature change of the

surface will depend directly on the magnitude of G and the

thermal heat capacity of the media. The ground heat flux is

generally into the surface media during the day (and summer)

when net radiation is high, and toward the surface during the

night (and in winter) when the net radiation is low.

In contrast to radiation, precipitation inputs are

inherently intermittent, i.e. they are positive for relatively

short durations (storms) and zero most of the time (interstorm periods). If one again considers an idealized surface, the

precipitation input gets partitioned into infiltration into the

soil and/or accumulation in the form of snow, evaporation/

sublimation from the surface, and runo. Writing equations

for mass balance can be done using consideration of the

relevant fluxes and Equation (1.5.2) as will be shown below.

179

accumulation (assuming solid precipitation), runo, and/or

infiltration into the soil depending on the state of the surface.

Evaporation/sublimation tends to be small during the

precipitation event (due to reduced net radiation), but may

play a large role during inter-storm periods. Mass balance will

be discussed in more detail in the context of snow

accumulation and unsaturated soil processes.

180

S ECTION 3

Snowpack Characteristics

In areas with sub-freezing temperatures, the processes

described in Chapter 5 can lead to solid-phase precipitation.

Such snowfall events generally require cold cloud processes

aloft along with sub-freezing air that extends all the way

down to the surface. Exceptions to this include hail storms

where there are cold cloud processes aloft (often due to

towering cumulus clouds), but above-freezing air in the subcloud layer. In such cases, the hail stones are generally large

enough (and fall fast enough) that the above-freezing subcloud temperatures are not sucient to fully melt them before

they reach the surface. In the context of this chapter we will

mostly be discussing the former case of snowfall leading to a

variety of snowpack processes. For a more detailed discussion

of snow processes, the reader is referred to Male and Gray

(1981) and Armstrong and Brun (2010).

Snowfall generally consists of snow grains (or

snowflakes), rather than droplets, that are often made up of a

large collection of tiny ice crystals (Figure 6.2). A snowpack is

simply an accumulation of snow grains on the ground. These

grains come in various sizes and morphologies depending on

the atmospheric conditions in which they were generated.

Figure 6.3 shows some typical types (habits) of snow grain

crystals as a function of atmospheric temperature. Unlike rain

droplets which are essentially the density of liquid water, the

fallen snow is not that of solid ice, but considerably less (this

is most obvious in a dendritic snowflake where there are many

open spaces that will form pores in the snow volume). The

relative density of new fallen snow compared to liquid water

can range from less than 5% to upward of 30% and varies

based on the meteorological conditions (Figure 6.4). A

common assumption is that new fallen snow has a density of

approximately 100 kg m-3 (i.e. approximately 10% that of

liquid water). This is useful rule-of-thumb, but is most

certainly a generalization that can be erroneous.

As a result of its constituents, snowpack is a granular

porous media (i.e. one that contains pores that can be filled

with air/liquid water). Its porous nature, leads to the

181

snowpack volume (Vs) can be considered to be simply the sum

of the volumes of solid ice (Vi), liquid water (Vw), and air

(Va):

(6.3.1)

area. When the snowpack is cold (i.e. T < 0C) it is by

definition dry (Vw = 0) so that the snowpack is made up of ice

and air only. When the snowpack is melting (T = 0C), then

the pores will contain some liquid water. Based on the porous

snowpacks. It should be noted that soil (which will be

discussed in Chapter 7) is also a porous media and hence

shares some of the same definitions. The key dierence is that

a snowpack is a highly dynamic media that evolves seasonally,

whereas soil is a relatively static porous media.

It is often convenient to think of a snowpack on a per

unit ground area basis when defining various characteristics.

So at a given moment in time, the volume of a snowpack is

often expressed in terms of its depth with the understanding

grain size) as a function of meteorological differences.

182

defined below. It should be kept in mind that for a snowpack

these properties change throughout the accumulation and

melt season. Moreover, they are usually a function of depth in

the snowpack (i.e. the properties vary with height).

The snow porosity is a measure of the volume of pore

space (some of which may be filled with liquid water) to the

total snow volume and is given by:

s =

Va +Vw

Vs

(6.3.2)

new fallen snow may have a porosity as high as 90%, while a

solid icepack would have a porosity approaching 0%. The

liquid water content of a snowpack is given by:

Vw

Vs

(6.3.3)

where the liquid water content is zero for a dry snowpack and

positive for a wet snowpack.

The snow density is given by the ratio of mass of solid

ice and liquid water (where air mass is neglected) to the total

volume of snow, i.e.:

s =

M i + M w iVi + wVw

=

= i (1 s ) + w

Vs

Vs

w density of liquid water = 1000 kg m -3

which can simply be thought of as a weighted average of ice

and liquid water densities by their respective volume fractions.

While mathematically the liquid water content could vary up

to the porosity, typically a snowpack cannot hold more than

5-10% of its pore space filled with liquid water. This upper

limit (i.e. liquid water retention capacity) is actually a

complicated function of the individual snowpack pore

morphology. Simple empirical expressions have been developed

in terms of snowpack density, e.g. (Eagleson, 1970):

ret

s2

s

4

= 0.0735 + 2.67 10 ;

w

w

(6.3.5)

[ ] = kg m -3

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we can define the

variable that is typically of most interest to hydrologists,

namely the snow water equivalent (SWE). This is simply

defined as the equivalent amount of liquid water mass that

would result if the entire snowpack were melted and is given

by:

SWE =

( )Vs + (1 s )Vs i w

A

(6.3.6)

(6.3.4)

where the numerator represents the liquid water in the

snowpack (first term) plus the equivalent liquid water bound

183

give dimensions of depth of equivalent water. The above can

be rewritten using the previous definitions as:

SWE = + (1 s ) i w ds = ds

w

(6.3.7)

the ratio of snow density to liquid water density. By construct,

this shows that in general SWE is less than or equal to the

snow depth.

such that all of the above properties may vary with depth in

the snowpack. An example is shown for illustrative purposes

in Figure 6.5, where snow at three dierent sites (at two

dierent times: March and April) is characterized in terms of

density and temperature profiles. Mechanisms for some of the

trends (i.e. densification and warming between March and

April) will be discussed in more detail in the next section. In

such layered snowpack cases, the SWE may instead be

determined via the summation of the water equivalent of each

layer in the snowpack, i.e.:

SWE = ( s

n

w )dz n

(6.3.8)

given layer n, and dzn corresponds to the thickness of layer n.

E XAMPLE 6.3.1

F IGURE 6.5 Examples of variation in snow profiles as a function of location and time of season. Each panel corresponds to

a different site. Bars correspond to density on the top axis and

dotted lines correspond to temperature on the bottom axis.

Black and grey correspond to March and April conditions respectively (from Filippa et al, 2010).

homogeneous snowpack were taken: average snow

temperature of -15C, snow depth of 2 meters,

and an average snow density of 200 kg m-3. What

is the snow water equivalent (in units of cm),

liquid water content, and snow porosity of the

snowpack at the measurement time?

The snow water equivalent is given by:

184

! 200 kg m -3 $

SWE = #

&(2 m) = 0.4 m = 40 cm

-3

" 1000 kg m %

The liquid water content is known to be equal to 0 since

the snowpack is sub-freezing. Liquid water only exists in

a snowpack when it is at freezing. The snow porosity is

given by (rearranging Equation (6.3.4)):

s

200 kg m -3

s = 1 = 1

= 0.78

i

917 kg m -3

Hence the snowpack at the measurement time is 78%

pore space and 22% solid ice.

185

S ECTION 4

Metamorphism

Many seasonal snowpacks have two relatively distinct

seasons: the accumulation season (where SWE is increasing

with time) and the melt (or ablation) season (where SWE is

decreasing with time). While processes that occur in one

season can occur in the other, here we will separate the two

for conceptual purposes, highlighting the key processes that

occur primarily in each. Here we also first ignore the impacts

of vegetation, focusing on snowpack processes only and then

discuss how vegetation impacts these processes.

During the (winter) accumulation season, precipitation is

generally high, air temperatures are cold and decreasing, and

net radiation is small or even negative. The bulk mass balance

for a snowpack (i.e. with the entire snowpack as the control

volume) can be written as follows (i.e. from Equation (1.5.4)):

d(SWE)

= P E M

dt

(6.4.1)

this case in the Sierra Nevada).

snowpack. During the accumulation season E and M are

generally small and P is intermittent, so that SWE is mostly a

monotonically increasing function, which is relatively constant

between storms, and has sharp increases during a storm

(Figure 6.6). So to the extent that precipitation can be

accurately characterized (not very easy in mountainous

terrain), the accumulation season SWE is closely coupled to

the cumulative precipitation.

E XAMPLE 6.4.1

snowfall but can also include wind-blown snow redistribution),

evaporation/sublimation, and melt output/runo respectively.

Simply put, as is always the case with mass balance, a surplus

of mass input (i.e. P > E + M) will lead to an increase in

with negligible melt and sublimation and three

storms each of which had cumulative precipita186

tion amounts of 10 cm, 15 cm, and 25 cm. What

is the SWE at the end of the accumulation

season?

The mass balance (assuming negligible sublimation and

melt) can be written as (from Equation (6.4.1)):

d(SWE)

= P SWE =

dt

P dt

relative instability of water at very high curvatures (in

grains). The saturated (equilibrium) vapor pressure for a

bulk surface (either liquid or ice) is given by the

appropriate Clausius-Clapeyron equation, but for curved

(ice) surfaces (of radius r) is given by:

2

ei (r) = ei ()exp

rRv wT

(6.4.2)

precipitation events. During inter-storm periods the

precipitation is by definition zero, so the integral is

simply the summation of the three storm events. The

SWE is thus equal to 50 cm.

Density however is not as straightforward as SWE. New

fallen snow generally has a relatively low density (100-200 kg

m-3). As soon as snow begins to accumulate, gravity and other

metamorphism factors begin to take hold with the end result

being a densification (i.e. increase in density) over time

(Figure 6.7). The primary mechanisms at work include:

1. Gravitational settling: This mechanism causes a

densification of the snowpack as a result of the weight of

overlying snow, which compacts the snowpack, reducing the

porosity.

F IGURE 6.7 Typical snow depth (upper panel) and snow density (lower panel) time series during accumulation season for a

high-elevation location with seasonal snowpack (in this case in

the Sierra Nevada).

187

notation for the saturated vapor pressure over a bulk surface

(i.e. the Clausius-Clapeyron Equation (2.4.6)). The second

term can be thought of as a correction for curvature (surface

tension) eects, with a small temperature (T) eect. The

result is a very high saturated vapor pressure for small radius

particles. This eect is the same one that prevents

homogeneous nucleation from occurring in clouds. A high

saturated vapor pressure drives vaporization, so that water

vapor molecules evaporate from these high curvature locations

and end up depositing on areas of less curvature. The end

result is a loss of small pointy grains and an increase in

larger more spherical grains, both of which tend to increase

the density of the snowpack. Because the mechanism occurs as

a result of small crystals, it typically only occurs in relatively

new snowpacks (i.e. with densities less than 250 kg m-3) or

near the top of snowpacks after new snow falls.

3.

result of vapor movement and deposition, but is instead

associated with temperature gradients. As shown in Figure

6.8, temperature profiles are seldom uniform in the

snowpack during the accumulation season, where cold air

above the snowpack causes large fluctuations near the

surface, while the insulating capacity of the snow often

keeps the snow in contact with the ground near freezing. If

one neglects radius eects (i.e. after destructive

metamorphism has taken place) the presence of solid ice

leads to a vapor pressure which is saturated and given by

the Clausius-Clapeyron equation. Hence at each depth in

snowpack temperature profile.

approximation given by:

L

e(z) = ei (T(z)) = es 0 exp s

Rv

1

1

T0 T(z)

(6.4.3)

188

existence of a temperature gradient implies a gradient in

vapor pressure. As we will see in Chapter 8, a gradient in

vapor pressure implies an evaporative (vapor) flux, where the

flux goes from areas of higher vapor pressure to lower vapor

pressure. For a typical temperature profile (Figure 6.8), there

is generally a decreasing trend in temperature from the base

to the surface of the snowpack (with superimposed variability

due to diurnal forcings) that drive vapor from lower in the

pack to higher in the pack, or in general toward colder regions

of the pack. This process tends to drive grain growth and is

often the dominant densification mechanism in the

disappeared due to vapor flux.

result of constructive and destructive mechanisms is shown in

Figure 6.9. The net result is a rounding of grains over time.

4. Melt metamorphism: This mechanism does not take place

in the accumulation season (aside from intermittent events),

but typically during melt. Liquid water can be introduced

into the snowpack via melt near the surface or rain on

snow. This liquid water will often migrate downward into

the snowpack, re-freezing at a given depth where the

snowpack is sub-freezing. The water moves through the

open pores and so when it freezes it generally binds existing

grains together into a single larger aggregated grain. Small

grains are generally quickly merged into larger ones as a

result of this mechanism (Figure 6.10). Upon a re-freeze,

latent heat is released which goes into warming of the pack,

which can then accelerate constructive metamorphism.

In cases where a snowpack has distinct accumulation and

melt seasons, dierent mechanisms play more or less

important roles in dierent parts of the season. Gravitational

settling is ever-present, while destructive metamorphism plays

a role early in the accumulation season and near the snowpack

surface after snow events. Constructive metamorphism is most

important during the bulk of the accumulation season (when

temperature gradients are largest). During melt, the

temperature gradients tend to disappear as the snowpack

becomes isothermal, leaving melt metamorphism as the

dominant mechanism.

189

E XAMPLE 6.4.2

Suppose that during the accumulation season a 2

meter snowpack has a linear temperature profile

of: T(z) = mz; z 0

where m is the temperature lapse rate in the

snowpack, with a value of -2 K/m. Derive an

expression for the vapor pressure profile in the

snowpack and describe the implied vapor flux.

The vapor pressure is, to a good approximation, equal to

the saturated vapor pressure (with respect to ice) since

the air is in equilibrium with the solid ice matrix. The

vapor pressure gradient can thus be written using the

chain rule in terms of the temperature gradient:

de dei dei dT

=

=

dz dz dT dz

The first term on the right-hand-side is simply equal to

the Clausius-Clapeyron equation (Equation (2.4.4), but

for bulk ice) and the second term is equal to the

temperature gradient from the temperature profile, so

that the vapor pressure gradient is equal to:

up of what had been several smaller grains.

#L

Ls

de Ls ei T

=

=

e exp %% s

2

2 s0

dz Rv T z RvT(z)

$ Rv

#1

1 && T

%%

((((

$T0 T(z) '' z

190

which when substituting the specific profile is given by:

"L

mLs

de Ls ei

=

m=

e exp $$ s

2

2 s0

dz Rv T

Rv (mz)

# Rv

"1

1 %%

$$

''''

#T0 mz &&

value for m) the vapor pressure is largest at the soilsnow interface and smallest at the snow surface. The

vapor flux will generally be from areas of high vapor

concentration to low vapor concentration. In this case,

the vapor flux will be from lower in the snowpack to

higher in the snowpack. This vapor flux will drive the

constructive growth mechanism of grains due to vapor

flux. Note: Once the snowpack becomes isothermal

during the melt season (i.e. m = 0) the vapor gradient

will also be zero.

Another key snow property related to metamorphism is

snow albedo. In general, snow has a very high reflectivity (in

the visible part of the spectrum) compared to almost all other

media, with albedos as high as 90% in some cases. Since

downwelling shortwave is the largest energy flux in many

cases, the albedo can strongly regulate the overall heat

absorption by the snowpack. For snow however, the albedo is

not a constant, but evolves, primarily due to grain size

evolution in the snowpack and addition of lower albedo

contaminants (i.e. dirt). Figure 6.11 shows an illustrative

snow. Typically new fallen snow has the highest albedo as

small grains increase volume scattering. As the grains increase

in size, the reflectivity tends to decay. As such, albedo is often

modeled as a decaying function of time, where the time

variable is number of days since the last snowfall (Figure

6.11). Alternatively, physically-based models predict albedo

directly from grain size growth equations. When a new

snowfall occurs, the albedo generally jumps back up to the

maximum value before decaying again. The decay rate can

to grain growth mechanisms.

191

Another factor that is sometimes accounted for in albedo

models (albeit often in a simplistic way) is the eect of

contamination of the snow. Things like dust, soot, and other

aerosols, tend to all add low albedo constituents into the snow

as the snow ages and tend to produce a decrease in the

albedo.

where ki is the thermal conductivity (in this case for ice). The

energy balance can then be written as:

(iciT )

= (Heat flux) + q

t

(6.4.4)

As described above, the metamorphism in the snowpack

is to a large extent driven by temperature profiles (and

specifically gradients). Since most of the transport of energy

(and vapor) occur in the vertical, the energy budget for the

snowpack can be written schematically (i.e. for a given layer)

as:

the divergence operator (in general in three dimensions) and q

represents a source/sink (which also varies with z and t) and

is associated with melt (sink) and re-freeze (source) events

that consume or release energy respectively. If one only

considers the vertical flux convergence then this equation

simplifies to the well-known one-dimensional (1D) heat flow

equation:

source/sink

(iciT ) 2(kiT )

=

+q

2

t

z

Theorem (Equation (1.5.1)). The energy storage in a

snowpack is related primarily to the specific heat capacity of

the medium (in this case ice, ci):

where T is the temperature of the snowpack (a function of

depth z and time t). The conductive energy flux in many

media is given by a Fickian (diusion) type of behavior, where

the flux is proportional to the gradient in the state variable,

which in the vertical direction is:

Heat flux = ki (T z)

(6.4.5)

that, provided initial and boundary conditions, can be solved

for the evolution of snowpack temperature. Of particular

importance are the boundary conditions, which at the surface

is given by the SEB, i.e. flux of energy being conducted into

the surface is given by:

G = Rn LE H = Rs(1 ) + Rl Rl LE H

(6.4.6)

is the conduction of heat between the underlying soil and

snow.

192

From Equation (6.4.6), it becomes clear that the primary

heating terms of the snowpack are the net shortwave radiation

(where albedo plays a significant role), the downwelling

longwave radiation, and in cases where the air temperature is

warmer than the snowpack surface, the sensible heat flux. The

primary cooling mechanisms are the outgoing longwave

radiation, the latent heat flux, and in cases where the

snowpack temperature is warmer than the overlying air, the

sensible heat flux. These fluxes drive the energy balance of the

snowpack, which in turn drives the various metamorphism

processes described above (Figure 6.12). During the

accumulation season the net radiation is often negative (i.e.

receiving). The net result is a sink of energy at the surface

and a general cooling of the snowpack (i.e. sometimes

significantly below freezing). Once spring arrives and the net

radiation becomes positive, there is a source of energy at the

surface, and the snowpack begins to warm. In the case of no

melt and no introduction of rain into the snowpack, q = 0 in

Equation (6.4.5). During the melt season, however the source/

sink term becomes important. The melt processes are

discussed in more detail in the next section.

processes in a snowpack.

193

S ECTION 5

Snowmelt

In an idealized snowpack, the snowmelt season is that

period generally following the accumulation season. In truth,

the two seasons are generally not completely distinct and

depend on the climatology of the region. At certain elevations,

snowpack is quite transient, where many accumulation and

melt events can occur throughout the winter and spring. In

any case, the melt period generally begins when the surface

net radiation transitions from negative to positive (Rn > 0).

Melt itself will not occur immediately when this transition in

net radiation occurs due to the thermal inertia of the

snowpack. At the time net radiation becomes positive, the

snowpack will generally be at sub-freezing temperatures. The

positive net radiation implies an energy input to the

snowpack. The specific impact this energy input has defines

three commonly described phases of the snowmelt season.

The first phase is the so-called warming phase. This

phase consists of the period of time when the positive net

radiation goes into increasing the temperature of the

snowpack toward the melting point of water. At any given

time, the amount of energy required to raise the average snow

temperature to the melting point is generally referred to as

the cold content of the snowpack, which can be defined as:

Qcc = ci wSWE(Tsnow Tm )

Tsnow is the average snow temperature and Tm is the melting

point of water (273.15 K or 0C). Keep in mind that by

definition during this period the snowpack is generally dry (no

liquid water content) except for transient rain-on-snow or

surface melt (which then percolates and re-freezes lower in the

snowpack).

Note that both SWE and Tsnow are time varying

quantities that describe the mass and energy state of the

snowpack at a given time. The temperature and SWE of the

snowpack are generally at a minimum and maximum at the

end of the accumulation season/beginning of the melt season

(i.e. warming phase) respectively. Keep in mind that in this

context the beginning of the melt season may be long before

the snow actually begins to change phase. The amount of

energy required to complete the warming phase is simply the

cold content at the beginning of the melt season which is

notationally referred to as: Qm1 for the energy input required

for melt Phase 1 (i.e. the warming phase). It is primarily

dictated by the specific heat capacity of the snowpack, which

by definition tells how much energy is required to raise the

temperature of the snowpack by 1 degree per unit mass.

Multiplying by mass and the total temperature change

required to reach the melting point provides the required

cumulative warming phase energy. In cases where the

snowpack properties (i.e. SWE and temperature) vary with

depth, the cold content can be computed for each layer and

summed up to get the total cold content. The length of Phase

(6.5.1)

194

snowpack (driven primarily by net radiation).

required to complete the output phase is given by:

The second and third phases of melt have to do with the

actual conversion of solid ice to liquid water. Keep in mind

that phase transition of a bulk media occurs at an isothermal

temperature (0C for water) so that during the last two

phases the temperature of the snowpack is constant

(isothermal) and at the melting point. By definition, the

snowpack is wet during these phases. The second phase is

referred to as the ripening phase and begins when the

snowpack becomes isothermal. Any cumulative energy input

beyond Qm1 will start to melt the snow. However early on in

the process, water is retained in the pores (i.e. none leaves the

snowpack as runo). The amount of water retained is that

given by Equation (6.3.5). The net energy input required to

complete the ripening phase (Phase 2) is simply:

Qm 2 = retds wLf

(6.5.2)

multiplied by the latent heat of fusion (Lf = 3.34105 J kg-1).

Since the liquid water retention capacity is generally relatively

small (5% maximum), the length of Phase 2 is often relatively

short, depending on the net radiation being input to the

snowpack.

The third and final phase is the melt output phase. It is

simply the extension of actual melt once the snowpack is

ripe, and corresponds to the period where any additional

melt will actually flow through and leave the pack since no

(6.5.3)

remaining amount of water that needs to be melted (after

ripening). Note that as expected, the total amount of energy

required for the second and third phases where melt is

actually occurring is given by:

Qm 2 + Qm 3 = SWE wLf

(6.5.4)

melt (neglecting sublimation losses to SWE). The above

expressions are most easily understood in the context of a

single-layer snowpack. However when modeling a multi-layer

snowpack energy balance (i.e. Equation (6.4.5)) the picture

becomes more complicated. The snowpack can have melt in

the upper surface layers that then flows downward in the

snowpack where it re-freezes. The re-freezing releases latent

heat energy that warms the snowpack in that location. The

process of surface melt, percolation, re-freezing with latent

heating, will continue until the entire pack is isothermal at the

freezing point. At that point ripening and melt output will

occur with the addition of any more energy.

All of the above has been in reference to processes at a

given point in space. When considering basin-scale processes,

it is important to keep in mind how things vary. In particular,

SWE accumulation will vary depending on orographic and

other eects so that the distribution of SWE at the beginning

195

Moreover, as discussed in Chapter 3, radiation inputs can vary

widely in complex terrain due to slope, aspect, sky view

factor, etc. Hence the length of the melt phase at dierent

locations in the basin will vary considerably. The end result of

these factors is that snowpack melt-out itself will vary

considerably across a basin.

latitude, with snow accumulating first and melting out last at

higher latitudes. Elevation also is shown to play a key role in

both accumulation and melt.

It is important to keep in mind that the above described

accumulation and melt of snow is highly seasonal over much of

the globe. Movie 6.1 shows a monthly time series of images of

snow cover over the northern hemisphere over North America

(from January 2004-December 2004). Accumulation and melt

Example 6.3.1 are at the end of the accumulation

season. Compute the energy input requirements

for the warming, ripening, and melt output

phases. For simplicity, assume that the amount of

volumetric (liquid) water content that can be

held in the pores without drainage (i.e.

associated with ripening) is 0.02.

E XAMPLE 6.5.1

equal to the cold content of the snowpack at the end of

the accumulation season, i.e.:

= 12.6 10 6 J/m 2

The required energy input for the ripening phase is given

by:

over the period January 2004-December 2004 (from

sos.noaa.gov/videos/seasonal_blue_marble_400.mov).

= 13.4 10 6 J/m 2

The required energy input for the melting phase is given

196

by:

= 1.2 10 8 J/m 2

From these calculations we can see that the bulk of the

energy input requirements are associated with the actual

melt and less so for the warming/ripening. It is

important to note that these are the required energy

inputs. The actual source of the energy is the cumulative

energy inputs into the snowpack over the melt season.

The melt energy fluxes are typically expressed in units of

W m-2, which when integrated over time yields the same

units of J/m2. The energy inputs are mainly driven by

net radiation and sensible heating of the snowpack,

which are both typically increasing functions of time

moving forward into the melt season.

197

S ECTION 6

Impact of Vegetation

The impacts of vegetation on snow processes (and land

surface processes in general) are, among others, those related

to energy balance at the surface and those related to mass

balance. Each is discussed briefly below.

In terms of radiative energy balance at the snow surface,

the primary impact of vegetation is the attenuation and/or

augmentation of radiative energy fluxes. The clear- and

cloudy-sky shortwave fluxes discussed in Chapter 3 dealt with

those fluxes reaching the surface. In the case of bare soil/snow

these fluxes would directly contribute to the SEB. When

vegetation is present, those fluxes would correspond to those

reaching the surface just above the canopy. The downwelling

above-canopy shortwave radiation will interact with the

vegetation canopy, with the vegetation having media

properties as defined in Chapter 3 including transmissivity,

absorptivity, and reflectivity. The vegetation reflectivity

(albedo) is generally much lower than for snow. In the case of

a dense vegetation canopy (i.e. forest), the transmissivity will

also be relatively low. Together this means that much of the

above-canopy radiation will be attenuated (absorbed) by the

vegetation.

The interaction of solar radiation with canopy is

relatively complicated. To avoid complex radiative transfer

calculations, simple empirical expressions have been developed

vegetation canopy. In such models, the attenuation is modeled

as an additional correction factor in the downwelling

shortwave flux equation shown in Equation (3.6.9) so that the

downwelling flux reaching the snow surface would be:

(6.6.1)

vegetation that depends on some vegetation characteristic. A

simple example of such a function is (Dunne and Leopold,

1978):

fsv = exp(3.91F)

(6.6.2)

to a lodgepole pine forest canopy a function of vegetation.

Note that this type of equation makes no attempt to account

for dierences in density/type of vegetation canopy, only

fractional cover. Other examples of such attenuation factors

use metrics such as the so-called leaf area index (discussed in

more detail in Chapter 8) to better capture the dierences in

attenuation by dierent kinds of canopies. Note that Equation

(6.6.1) is general in that if there is no forest cover (F = 0), it

reduces to the cloudy-sky case (which itself reduces to the

clear-sky case if there is no cloud cover).

The longwave radiation reaching the surface can also be

impacted by vegetation. Namely the longwave flux can

typically be augmented (increased) as a result of: i) a larger

198

ii) a larger vegetation temperature as a result of absorption of

the atmospheric shortwave radiation. For the latter case, a

separate energy balance for the vegetation canopy must be

employed. Alternatively, an often-used simplifying assumption

is that the canopy has a negligible heat capacity which would

result in the canopy temperature being in approximate

equilibrium with the air temperature. In this case, only the

emissivity impacts would play a role in the longwave

augmentation. In such cases, the downwelling longwave flux

reaching the surface is often modified by using an emissivity

that is a weighted average of the atmospheric emissivity and

the vegetation canopy emissivity, i.e.:

The impact of vegetation on mass balance of the

snowpack on the ground (or the surface in general) primarily

has to do with the so-called interception of precipitation by

the canopy. The leaves of a dense canopy can hold a nonnegligible amount of snow (or rain) that is at least initially

removed from the snow/soil surface mass balance. An example

of this in the case of snow in an evergreen forest is shown in

Figure 6.13. The interception is most often treated as a small

reservoir that captures any precipitation coming in contact

with the canopy and can hold up to a specified volume (or

(6.6.3)

subscript refers to vegetation and the weighting is simply done

by the fraction of forest cover. Note that a common

simplifying assumption is that the emissivity of a forest

canopy is equal to 1.0 so that Equation (6.6.3) becomes:

d = (1 F)flc (cloud)a + F

(6.6.4)

surface is then given by:

Rl = dTa4

(6.6.5)

equations in Chapter 3 for the special case of no vegetation

cover and/or no cloud cover.

images/canopy_interception.jpg).

199

depth, i.e. volume per unit area) of water before the water

begins to drain or slough o (in the case of snow) the canopy

onto the surface. The amount of precipitation that falls

through the spaces in the canopy combined with the drainage

from the canopy is usually referred to as throughfall. The

primary impact of the intercepted water is that it can then

evaporate/sublimate back into the atmosphere before ever

reaching the surface. Hence, some of the water that would

have contributed to the snowpack and/or soil mass balance in

a bare surface case, will be removed from the surface mass

balance when vegetation is present. The evaporation (or

interception) loss from the canopy is discussed in more detail

in Chapter 8.

Both of the energy and mass balance implications

associated with vegetation cover discussed above play a

significant role in the spatial and temporal variability seen in

snowpacks. Moreover, they extend to non-snow covered

regimes, where the impact on energy/mass budgets are

equally important. This includes a significant impact on

evapotranspiration at the surface, which is discussed in more

detail in Chapter 8.

200

S ECTION 7

Snow Climatology

The climatology of snow is largely just a climatology of

precipitation, which drives snow accumulation, and a

climatology of radiation, which drives snow melt. Together

these will determine various climatological factors related to

snow including: average SWE, duration of accumulation and

melt seasons, types of snow, etc. Snowfall occurrence is largely

a product of latitudinal and elevational dependence. Areas at

high latitudes and/or at high elevation will experience air

temperatures cold enough to turn any appreciable

precipitation into snowfall.

Figure 6.14 shows the major mountain ranges across the

globe which experience significant seasonal snowfall and

accumulation as a result of elevational lapse rate eects

(despite being at midlatitudes). Much of the remaining

portions of snow covered areas of the globe are a result of less

radiation at higher latitudes. The combination of varying

elevation, latitude, and other factors leads to varying

climatological classification of snow types. A common

classification involves six dierent types of snow (Sturm et al.,

1995):

Tundra: Thin, cold, wind-blown snow usually found above or

poleward of tree line

ranges across the globe.

in forests in cold climates

Alpine: Intermediate to cold, deep snowpacks, typically low

density

Maritime: Warm, deep snowpack with coarse-grained snow

due to wetting

Prairie: Thin (except in drifts) moderately cold snow with

substantial wind drifting

201

melts soon after deposition

types of snow across the Northern Hemisphere. The

classifications include factors like snow depth, density,

temperature, grain size, and vegetation presence/absence. For

example, in the continental U.S., Europe, and central Asia the

snowpacks are generally maritime, alpine, and prairie, while at

higher latitudes they transition to taiga and tundra. Based on

the snow processes described above, these varying snowpack

characteristics will impact the climatology of albedo and other

surface energy and mass balance processes.

The climatology of snow accumulation is tied mostly to

snowfall patterns. These climatologies are quite dicult to

determine quantitatively based on the relatively sparse

over the Northern Hemisphere.

F IGURE 6.16 Map of mean annual total snowfall over the continental U.S. (in inches).

202

map shown in Figure 6.16 with both latitudinal and

elevational dependence. The map shows general areas in the

mountainous regions with snow cover presence greater than 60

days, up to values higher than 150 days. In localized areas

with north-facing aspects and/or with significant vegetation

cover snow may persist even longer. Dierences are also due to

radiation (and other energy) inputs, as those at lower

latitudes and nearer coastlines may be subject to less heating

during the melt season or more abrupt transitions between

snow and rain season, where rain-on-snow events can often

lead to rapid melt-out.

F IGURE 6.17 Contour map showing the average annual number of days with snow cover.

Figure 6.16 shows the annual snowfall climatology estimate

from NOAA over the continental U.S. The patterns seen are

essentially a superposition of the two eects described above:

a general increase in amounts of snowfall at higher latitudes

(most recognizable in the eastern U.S.) combined with areas

of high snowfall localized in mountainous regions (most

recognizable in the western U.S.).

The snowfall amounts combined with radiation inputs

during the melt season will, to first-order, determine how long

seasonal snowpacks last on the ground. Figure 6.17 shows a

map of snow cover duration over the continental U.S. The

203

S ECTION 8

Snow Measurement

In describing snow measurement one must distinguish

between snowfall measurement and snowpack measurement.

The former attempts to measure precipitation in the form of

snow. Hence, the same techniques discussed in Chapter 5 can

theoretically be used to measure snowfall, including snowfall

gauges, RADAR, and satellite-based techniques. The primary

complication with snowfall gauges have to do with the fact

that wind eects can be more amplified for low density

snowflakes (compared to raindrops) in the sense that the

turbulence caused by the presence of the gauge itself can

much more easily deflect snow such that it is not captured by

the gauge. Hence gauge under-catch, which is prevalent in the

case of rain, is generally exaggerated in the case of snowfall

measurement. It is not uncommon for a gauge to catch only

50% of the snowfall that might actually be falling, which can

lead to large (negative) biases in snowfall estimates.

Additionally, snow can freeze or block the gauge opening, so

often gauges designed to measure snowfall are equipped with a

heating unit to melt the snow which can then flow into the

tipping bucket or water reservoir.

The RADAR-based techniques used for snowfall

estimation also have diculty, mainly caused by the much

more complicated relationship between snow hydrometeors

and reflectivity. While liquid raindrops are usually assumed to

solid precipitation can be quite erroneous. Moreover, the

disparity of the habits of snow crystals (Figure 6.3), means

that the uncertainty in the relationships between hydrometeor

size/shape and reflectivity is much larger. Similarly high

uncertainties plague relationships in satellite-based estimates

of snowfall.

The other type of measurement of snow is the amount of

snow on the ground at a given location or time. In some sense,

this is generally what is of most interest and is essentially, at

least in the accumulation season, an integrated measure of

F IGURE 6.18 Example of snow depth measurement (from National Weather Service, Wilmington Ohio).

204

measure snow in situ, some of which are manual. These

manual measurements include snow courses, where snow

depth is measured using a snow stake (Figure 6.18) or SWE is

measured using a cylindrical probe that removes a column of

snow that is then weighed (Figure 6.19). Such snow courses

often require trekking into remote mountainous regions. As

such, they are often performed only monthly near the peak of

the snow accumulation season and during the melt season.

Such networks of long-term sampling often form the basis for

spring snowmelt and runo planning in many snow-dominated

regions, including California which has had the California

snow cores (from nationalatlas.gov/articles/climate/a_snow.html).

place dating back to the early 1900s.

In order to increase the temporal resolution of SWE

measurements and avoid the manual labor required for snow

surveys, more recently snow pillows have become popular for

essentially continuous (daily) measurement of SWE. A

schematic of such a snow pillow station is shown in Figure

6.20 with a picture from a real site shown in Figure 6.21. A

snow pillow is a sealed envelope filled with a non-freezing

liquid that rests on the ground and is connected to pressure

transducers. The basic idea is that accumulated snow on top

of the pillow will impart a compressive force on the snow

pillow that will produce a measurable change in pressure in

the fluid. These sites often have some meteorological sensors

at the site to measure air temperature, precipitation and other

variables. A standardized network of snow pillow sites referred

to as snow telemetry (SNOTEL) sites is coordinated across

the western U.S. by the Natural Resources Conservation

Service (of the USDA).

Figure 6.22 shows a map of the SNOTEL sensor network.

The telemetry aspect of a SNOTEL site has to do with the

sending of the logged data to a remote receiver, which

alleviates the need to go to the site for data collection. Other

state agencies have additional snow pillow sites that are also

often telemetered, but not part of the ocial SNOTEL

network. The end result is a daily time series of SWE during

the snow season. Because of their cost, snow pillow sensors are

generally less abundant that the number of snow course

measurements, but they nevertheless provide a useful

205

F IGURE 6.21 Photo of a snow pillow site prior during the dry

season.

current networks generally under-sample the SWE fields,

especially in mountainous terrain.

(from nationalatlas.gov/articles/climate/a_snow.html).

to keep in mind that these and the other standard

measurements described above are all point-scale

measurements of variables that have a high degree of

Another in situ point-scale measurement that is

impractical for operational implementation, but often used for

more detailed measurement of snowpack stratigraphy is the

digging of snow pits. This technique involves digging a pit to

ground level to expose a face of the snowpack (Figure 6.23).

Once exposed, various profile measurements including

temperature, density, SWE, hardness, grain size, etc. at a

206

F IGURE 6.22 Locations of SNOTEL sites in the Western U.S.

snow pit where measurements of temperature, density, hardness, grain size profiles are made.

207

regular interval across the entire profile are taken from the

face of the snow pit.

While the remote sensing of snowfall is dicult as

described above, other aspects of snow are routinely measured

via satellite-based remote sensing. Satellite-based remote

sensing generally measures electromagnetic radiation in a

particular and relevant part of the spectrum. Snow generally

has two relevant wavelength bands that provide useful

information: visible/near-infrared (Vis/NIR) and microwave.

surface and can therefore identify the presence or absence of

snow relatively easily (except for the case of snow under dense

vegetation canopies). Figure 6.24 shows a map of snow cover

over the globe for a particular day during Northern

Hemisphere winter obtained from polar orbiting satellites. The

data on sensors measuring in visible/near-infrared is often

In the Vis/NIR (i.e. shortwave) part of the spectrum

snow is highly reflective compared to other media (Table 3.2).

Satellite sensors measuring in this part of the spectrum are

F IGURE 6.24 Satellite-derived snow covered area.

208

of meters with varying temporal resolution (daily to every

couple weeks).

In the microwave spectrum, satellite sensors measure the

emitted (passive) microwave radiation from the surface, which

is sensitive to the amount of snow mass on the ground. So

microwave measurements are more directly connected to SWE

than Vis/NIR and retrieval algorithms have been developed to

estimate SWE from space-borne microwave sensors (Figure

6.25). However, the spatial resolution of microwave

measurements are on the order of tens of kilometers (i.e. much

coarser than Vis/NIR). At these coarse scales, there can be

significant sub-grid heterogeneity within a single remote

sensing footprint. This can often pose problems for the

retrieval of SWE in mountainous terrain.

209

S ECTION 9

MOD-WET Codes

Relevant functions based on concepts introduced in

this chapter include:

Disaggregation of meteorological station forcings:

distribute_met_forcings.m

Computation of surface pressure over complex terrain:

disaggregate_press.m

Computation of near-surface specific humidity over complex terrain:

disaggregate_qair.m

Computation of air temperature over complex terrain:

disaggregate_Tair.m

A simple 1-layer snow model with mass/energy balance:

snow_model.m

A snow albedo model based on the USACE formulation:

albedo_usace.m

210

S ECTION 10

Conceptual Questions

1. Name the four fluxes in the surface energy balance

equation. What are the units on the fluxes?

2. Describe what the porosity of the snowpack represent.

3. What is the liquid water content of a dry snowpack. What

(order of magnitude) is the maximum liquid water content

of snowpack?

4. Describe the meaning of the liquid water retention capacity

of a snowpack.

snowpack processes (and surface processes in general).

11. Name and describe the types of snowpack used in the

Sturm classification system. What are the primary types of

snowpack in the Western U.S.

12. Name the commonly used in situ techniques for

characterizing snowpack properties and clearly note what

properties are provided by each.

13. Describe the basic principle behind a snow pillow for

characterizing SWE.

14. In what ways can snowpacks be characterized from remote

sensing?

to solid ice?

6. Write the basic mass balance equation of a snowpack. Be

careful to define each term.

7. Name and describe the primary snowpack metamorphism

mechanisms. What impact do they generally have on

snowpack density?

8. How does snowpack albedo generally change with time?

What is responsible for this change?

9. Name and describe the three main phases of the snowmelt

process. What snowpack properties are chiefly responsible

for the amount of energy required for each phase?

211

S ECTION 11

Sample Problems

Problem 6.1. Measurements of snowpack in three locations

in a small basin yield the following measurements:

LOCATION

DEPTH (CM)

95

102

105

SWE (CM)

27

27

29

TEMPERATURE

(C)

-3

-5

b) What can you say, if anything, about the liquid water

content in the snowpack at each location. Using the empirical

Equation (6.3.5), estimate the liquid water retention capacity

in the snowpack at each location.

c) Compute the cold content of the snowpack at each

location. What do your answers imply about the phase in

which the three dierent snowpacks are in?

Problem 6.2. The temperature profile in a snowpack is

measured as follows:

(CM)

TEMPERATURE

(C)

-1

50

-3

100

-2

each level in the snowpack. You can reasonably assume

curvature eects are negligible so that you can use the bulk

Clausius-Clapeyron equation for ice.

b) Snow grain size evolution is largely driven by vertical

temperature gradients which are responsible for vertical vapor

gradients. Compute the vapor gradients between the first and

second and second and third levels in the snowpack. The

gradient is just the dierence in vapor divided by the distance

between the two locations (i.e. dierence in height).

c) Assuming vapor transport will be from areas of high vapor

concentration to areas of low vapor concentration (something

that will be discussed in more detail in Chapter 8 in the

context of evaporation), describe the expected transport of

vapor in the snowpack. In other words, which level will vapor

be transported to and what levels will vapor be transported

away from? What is the expected impact on grain size in the

three layers? Explain.

Problem 6.3. The end of the snow accumulation period in a

small watershed for a particular year is April 1st. Suppose the

212

following April 1st measurements were taken: a snow

temperature of -5C, snow depth of 1.2 m, and a snow density

of 450 kg m-3. Assume that April 1st is the very beginning of

the melt season and that the amount of volumetric (liquid)

water content that can be held in the pores without drainage

(i.e. associated with ripening) is 0.02.

a) What is the snow water equivalent, volumetric (liquid)

water content in the snowpack, and snow porosity on April

1st?

b) Compute the energy input required to respectively

complete the warming, ripening, and melt output phases.

What fraction of the total energy required to complete melt

goes into each phase?

c) Incoming radiation can vary greatly throughout a basin

due to topography (slope/aspect/shading). Due to such

heterogeneity, for the first thirty days after April 1st, the

snowpack at two locations in the basin absorb an average of

15 W m-2 (location #1) and 75 W m-2 (location #2).

Determine the state of the snowpack (snow water equivalent,

phase (dry/wet), snow temperature) at each location after the

thirty days. For simplicity, assume the amount of liquid water

retained in the snowpack is constant from the end of the

ripening phase until all water is melted.

respectively. Suppose the only dierence between the two

locations in the basin is the vegetation cover. One location is

bare and the other is covered by 50% forest cover.

a) Estimate the dierence in downwelling shortwave radiation

reaching the snow surface for the two dierent locations.

What impact is the dierence expected to have on the

snowpack? Explain.

b) Estimate the dierence in downwelling longwave radiation

reaching the snow surface for the two locations. What impact

is the dierence expected to have on the snowpack? Explain.

c) Do the dierences in shortwave and longwave reinforce or

counteract each other?

Problem 6.5. A snowpack will generally begin to first melt

at the surface where the net radiative forcing is largest. This

initial melt may lead to percolation in the snowpack that then

refreezes lower in the snowpack. Suppose conditions are such

that a snowpack experiences 2 cm of SWE melt at the surface.

The melt water percolates downward to a layer with a

temperature of -1.5C where it re-freezes. After re-freezing,

what is the temperature of the snow at that location (i.e. as a

result of latent heating). Will all of the water re-freeze?

(during clear-sky conditions) at a given time over a given

location is: 500 W m-2 and that the reference-level air

213

Chapter 7

Unsaturated

Flow and

Infiltration

S ECTION 1

Learning Objectives

By the time you finish this chapter you should be able to:

1. Define the meaning of a porous media

2. Use the soil triangle to define a particular soil type/

texture

3. Define the volumetric water content and relative soil

saturation and how they are related to each other

4. Describe what factors (i.e. pressure head, elevation head,

velocity head) control flow in porous media

5. Define matric head and hydraulic conductivity and how

they depend on soil moisture and soil type

6. Define and explain Darcys Law for flow in unsaturated

conditions

7. Understand and describe the two terms that in particular

control vertical flow in unsaturated soils

unsaturated zone evolves during an infiltration event

11. Sketch a picture of how the infiltration rate evolves in

time during a storm for the general case of switching

boundary conditions

12. Sketch a picture of how the infiltration rate evolves in

time for the limiting cases of very intense storms (i.e.

precipitation rate very high relative to saturated

conductivity) and low intensity storms (i.e. precipitation

rate lower than saturated hydraulic conductivity)

13. Understand the primary assumptions used in models for

infiltration capacity (e.g. Philip, Green-Ampt)

14. Understand and describe the dierence between actual

infiltration and infiltration capacity (or potential

infiltration)

15. Convert between infiltration rate and cumulative

infiltration

16. Apply the time-compression approximation to compute

the actual infiltration under non-ponded conditions (i.e.

the general case)

(vertical) flow in unsaturated soils

9. Understand and describe what drives infiltration rate

215

S ECTION 2

Soil is a porous media (like snow) consisting of a matrix

of individual solid grains and interconnected pores that can be

filled with water and/or air. The unsaturated (or vadose) zone

is the region of soil found between the land surface and the

saturated zone (water table) that lies at some depth beneath

the surface (Figure 7.1). The main distinguishing feature

between the saturated and unsaturated zones simply have to

do with whether the pore space in the soil is partially or fully

filled with water. The unsaturated zone is actually more

complex in that the pores are filled with both water and air.

The thickness of the vadose zone is variable throughout a

basin, where generally speaking the water table depth is

deepest at higher elevation regions and shallowest along

streams in the basin. If a particular basin is vegetated, the

rootzone of the soil is primarily contained within the vadose

zone. For a more detailed description of vadose zone processes

the reader is referred to Parlange and Hopmans (1999).

In terms of fluxes, the primary source of water to the

vadose zone is infiltration, which by definition is the flux at

the surface (associated with precipitation events), while water

can also move upward from the water table below via

capillary rise. In general, percolation is the flux of water

moving down through the vadose zone and recharge is the flux

unsaturated and saturated zones (from quizlet.com/4706106).

Another distinguishing feature of the vadose zone is that the

water movements are mostly vertical, which is in contrast to

the groundwater system where fluxes are mostly horizontal.

As such, flow dynamics in the unsaturated zone are often

treated as simply one-dimensional (1D) in the vertical.

Unsaturated flow dynamics consist not only of water moving

downward through the vadose zone, but also upward via

216

Additionally, root uptake (and subsequent transpiration from

the leaves of the vegetation) constitutes a sink of moisture

that can be distributed throughout the rootzone.

or relative saturation:

In terms of characterizing porous soil media, many of the

same or analogous definitions that were used for snow are

used for soil. The mineral particle density is given by:

representation of the fraction of total soil volume filled with

water and therefore can theoretically vary between zero and

the soil porosity. The s subscript is used to denote saturated

(i.e. all pores are filled with water). The relative saturation is

a normalized metric that represents the fraction of pores filled

with water and therefore varies between 0 and 1. When

discussing soil moisture it is crucial to know which of these

two metrics are being used as they are approximately a factor

of two dierent due to the porosity. In reality, the lower limit

of soil moisture is not generally zero, but a residual amount

that is bound to the soil grains, which is dependent on the

type of soil.

m =

Mass of minerals

Volume of minerals

(7.2.1)

kg m-3. The bulk density is given by:

b =

Mass of minerals

Volume of soil

(7.2.2)

and varies depending on the soil type and porosity. The soil

porosity has the analogous definition used in snow (in this

case volume of pore space per unit volume of soil) and can be

related to the above densities:

s = 1 b m

(7.2.3)

characterized by the volumetric water content:

Volume of water

Volume of soil

(7.2.4)

s=

(7.2.5)

Most of the above defined properties depend on soil

type. However this has not yet been rigorously defined. The

common way of defining soil type (or texture) is via a grain

size distribution. This involves taking a soil sample and

sorting it with progressively smaller sieve openings to

characterize the distribution of soil grains in various size bins.

For the types of soil commonly found in the vadose zone,

three end-member types are defined: sand (size range between

0.06 and 2 mm), silt (size range between 0.002 and 0.06 mm)

and clay (sizes less than 0.002 mm). For a given soil sample

one can determine the fractional weight in each of these end217

experiments have been done to correlate these defined soil

types with specific properties (including those defined above)

that are useful for characterizing the storage and/or flow

properties of a given soil.

Table 7.1 shows the typical porosity for the various soil

types as determined via analysis of over 1000 soil samples by

Clapp and Hornberger (1978). The general trend is that sandy

soils have the lowest porosities, while clay soils have the

highest. This may be counterintuitive at first, as larger

SOIL TYPE (C LAPP & H ORNBERGER , 1978). V ALUE

SHOWN IN PARENTHESES IS THE STANDARD

DEVIATION .

SOIL TYPE

ture triangle for determining soil type from fraction of clay, silt,

and sand.

the so-called soil texture triangle (Figure 7.2) to identify the

particular soil type, which are arbitrarily defined names

indicating the combination of constituents (silt loam, sandy

loam, sandy clay, silty clay, etc.). For example a soil sample

with 30% clay, 10% sand, and 60% silt would be classified as a

POROSITY

Sand

0.395 (0.056)

Loamy sand

0.410 (0.068)

Sandy Loam

0.435 (0.086)

Silt Loam

0.485 (0.059)

Loam

0.451 (0.078)

0.420 (0.059)

0.477 (0.057)

Clay loam

0.476 (0.053)

Sandy clay

0.426 (0.057)

Silty clay

0.492 (0.064)

Clay

0.482 (0.050)

218

to have smaller but many more pores due to the configuration

of the particles (Figure 7.3). The implication of this is that

while clays theoretically have more water storage capacity, the

ability for water to actually flow is much higher in sandy soils.

This will be seen more explicitly in following sections.

In terms of connections between porosity and soil

moisture, Figure 7.4 shows the range of soil moisture

conditions one may expect to find in a soil. During and after a

storm, the soil may be near-saturated, in which case it is easy

for water to drain from the soil due to gravity. After the

immediate gravitational drainage, the state where most of the

media.

pores are still filled is called the field capacity. The typical

situation is shown where a mix of air and water is stored in

the pores, where water may be held up against gravity due to

capillary forces (discussed more below). Finally, if additional

drying is experienced (i.e. by evaporation or root uptake), the

soil moisture condition will eventually reach the wilting point.

In this case, only immobile water that is essentially adhered to

grains is left behind. In this condition, a plants system will

not be able to uptake moisture and may wilt. The amount of

water corresponding to each of these states is dependent upon

the soil type as shown in Figure 7.5. The reason for this has

219

E XAMPLE 7.2.1

A soil sample taken from the field with a 10 cm

long by 5 cm diameter cylindrical tube has a field

weight of 306 g and an oven-dried weight of 245

g. For the soil sample, calculate the: a) bulk

density and porosity and b) volumetric soil

moisture and relative saturation.

a) The volume of the (cylindrical) soil sample is given

by:

Vsoil =

4

mass to the soil volume:

moisture values as a function of soil type.

b =

245 g

= 1.25 g cm 3

3

196.4 cm

to do mostly with flow through soils rather than storage and

is discussed in the next section.

b) The volumetric soil moisture and relative saturation

depend on the amount of water in the soil. The mass of

water in the sample is 306 g - 254 g = 61 g. Based on

the density of liquid water this amounts to 61 cm3. The

volumetric soil moisture is then:

220

61 cm 3

=

= 0.31

196.4 cm 3

The relative saturation is then given by:

s=

0.31

= 0.59

0.53

221

atmospheric pressure. In general this energy (per unit weight)

has dimensions of length, can vary with space and time, and

will dictate flow direction and magnitudes. In general for

subsurface soil flow, the velocity (V) is small making the

kinetic energy term negligible:

S ECTION 3

Here we introduce the basics of flow in porous media.

The principles apply to both unsaturated and saturated flow,

but will be applied for unsaturated flow first. The key point

with respect to flow is that water flows down the prevailing

energy gradient. The total energy at a given point in a flow

field (neglecting internal energy) consists of the sum of

potential energy, kinetic energy, and work done by the

pressure force, and can be written as:

1 WV 2 pW

Total Energy = Wz +

+

2 g

w g

(7.3.1)

liquid water. It is then common to divide the above by weight

(W) and define the hydraulic head, which is simply the total

energy per unit weight:

V2

p

H =z+

+

2g w g

(7.3.2)

elevation head, velocity head, and pressure head. The

elevation head is defined relative to a datum. It should be

noted that in the context of flow problems, the pressure p

H z+

p

= h(x,y,z,t)

w g

(7.3.3)

dependence is shown for emphasis. As will be discussed below,

spatial gradients in h are what drive flow, where in particular

water will flow from areas of higher h to areas of lower h. It

should be noted that implicitly each term is representative of

the average state of the system over some small representative

elemental volume (REV). The REV can be thought of as a

small dierential volume of soil (containing soil particles, air,

and water). So for example, the pressure is the average water

pressure over the REV.

The above principles apply to either saturated or

unsaturated flow, however the pressure head term in the case

of unsaturated flow has unique connotations. In saturated

soils one can envision water being pushed by pressure

gradient forces, where the pressure is higher than atmospheric

surface pressure. In unsaturated soils the water is being held

up against gravity, or pulled by pressure gradient forces that

are less than atmospheric surface pressure. Because pressure

in this context is defined as gauge pressure, this means that

222

pressures are often referred to as suction or tension. The

reason for the suction forces have to do with capillarity and

surface tension in the soil.

One can envision soil as containing several dierent pore

sizes that could be conceptualized as capillary tubes of

varying diameter. If dierent capillary tubes are placed in a

beaker of water that is open to the air (Figure 7.6), the water

level inside the capillary tubes will rise above the water level

outside the tubes. Moreover, the smaller the tubes, the higher

the water level will rise. The dierence in height between the

water inside and outside of the tubes is due to suction

(negative pressure associated with surface tension) where the

pressure at the water surface outside the tubes is by construct

unsaturated, water will be held more tightly against gravity in

the smaller pores in the same way that water is pulled higher

in the tubes with smaller diameters (Figure 7.6). The result is

that water in smaller pores will have higher (more negative)

suction pressures. Since smaller pores have higher suction,

these pores will tend to hold water longest. Furthermore, since

the pressure p in Equation (7.3.3) refers to the average over

an REV of soil, high (i.e. more negative) suction pressures are

generally associated with dry soils and vice versa. In the limit

of a soil becoming completely dry, the suction pressure will

approach minus infinity. In the limit of a soil becoming

saturated, the suction pressure will approach zero. This is

generally the case at the water table interface between the

unsaturated and saturated zones.

Since the density of liquid water is essentially constant,

the pressure head term is often redefined as the matric head

(or suction head):

p

=

(< 0)

(7.3.4)

w g

F IGURE 7.6 Illustration of capillary rise as a function of capillary tube diameter. Capillary rise is proportional to suction in

water. Soil suction in soil pores act analogously with smaller

pores holding water at higher suction pressures. The capillary

rise is marked by a curved meniscus due to surface tension.

written as:

h = +z

(7.3.5)

The flow (flux of water) in porous media is often

described by the volumetric flow (Q; [Q]=L3/T) per unit

cross-sectional area (A; [A]=L2) and is given by Darcys

223

(1856) Law:

q=

Q

= Kh

A

(7.3.6)

() () ()

+

+

x y z

h

=

+1

z

z

divergence when operating on a vector field. The Darcy flux

(or specific discharge) q has dimensions of velocity [L T-1], K

is the hydraulic conductivity [L T-1], and the last term is the

gradient in piezometric head h(x, y, z). The head is a scalar

field so that the del operator is the gradient and represents a

vector quantity. As such q is itself a vector quantity (i.e. has

directionality). A gradient is a vector in the steepest ascent

direction (i.e. slope is defined as positive in the increasing

direction). Since flow is always in the steepest descent

direction, there is a negative sign in Darcys Law (Equation

(7.3.6)). In general q can be a three-dimensional quantity (i.e.

with three components in the x-, y-, and z-directions). Since

unsaturated flow is mainly in the z-direction only, the relevant

Darcy flux is given by:

q z = K z

h

z

h(z,t) = (z,t) + z

(7.3.8)

hydraulic conductivity and to the head gradient:

() =

therefore:

(7.3.7)

(7.3.9)

Based on Equations (7.3.7) and (7.3.9), flow in the

unsaturated zone depends on the hydraulic conductivity of the

soil and matric head of the soil. In particular these two

variables depend on two factors: i) Soil type (which is fixed in

time, but varies in space) and ii) soil moisture (which varies in

both space and time). To quantify these relationships,

experiments have been performed to develop constitutive

relationships between the soil type, moisture and conductivity

and matric head.

Several models exist, but a commonly used one is the

Brooks-Corey model (1966). The water retention curve (i.e.

soil matric head vs. soil moisture) is given by:

( ) = s

s

(7.3.10)

b Brooks-Corey parameter

224

K( ) = K s

s

(7.3.11)

c = 2b + 3

(Table 7.2).

It is important to keep in mind that the saturated matric

head (sometimes referred to as the air-entry bubbling

pressure) is negative. The Brooks-Corey b parameter is a

positive number that is generally greater than 1, meaning that

the retention curve is nonlinear. For a given soil type at

saturation, the matric head is equal to the saturated matric

head and the hydraulic conductivity is equal to the saturated

hydraulic conductivity. As soil moisture becomes smaller, the

matric head becomes larger in magnitude (more negative),

while the hydraulic conductivity becomes smaller

(approaching zero). Figure 7.7 shows a schematic of the water

retention and hydraulic conductivity curves. Table 7.2 shows

that as a soil goes from sand to clay the saturated hydraulic

conductivity becomes less. Note that this is in contrast to the

trend in porosity (Table 7.1) indicating that while fine-grained

soils can actually store more water, the flow in such soils is

generally lower. Additionally, the relationships become more

nonlinear as soils become more fine-grained. It should be

clearly noted that these parameters are in general highly

uncertain and the tabulated values shown in Table 7.2 are

estimates from one dataset.

AS A FUNCTION OF SOIL TYPE (C LAPP &

H ORNBERGER , 1978). V ALUE SHOWN IN

PARENTHESES IS THE STANDARD DEVIATION .

SAT.

SOIL

TYPE

HYDRAULIC

CONDUCTIVITY

[cm/hr]

SAT.

MATRIC

HEAD

[cm]

BROOKSCOREY

PARAMETER

Sand

63.36

-12.1 (14.3)

4.05 (1.78)

Loamy sand

56.16

-9.0 (12.4)

4.38 (1.47)

Sandy Loam

12.49

-21.8 (31.0)

4.90 (1.75)

Silt Loam

2.59

-78.6 (51.2)

5.30 (1.96)

Loam

2.50

-47.8 (51.2)

5.39 (1.87)

Sandy clay

loam

2.27

-29.9 (37.8)

7.12 (2.43)

0.61

-35.6 (37.8)

7.75 (2.77)

Clay loam

0.88

-63.0 (51.0)

8.52 (3.44)

Sandy clay

0.78

-15.3 (17.3)

10.4 (1.64)

Silty clay

0.37

-49.0 (62.1)

10.4 (4.45)

Clay

0.46

-40.5 (39.7)

11.4 (3.7)

Silty clay

loam

Given these relationships, they can be used in Darcys

Law to express flux in terms of the soil moisture, i.e.:

225

(b+1)

" %

d

b

= s $$ ''

d

s # s &

(7.3.13)

where while the magnitude can vary with soil moisture, the

sign of Equation (7.3.13) is always positive (Figure 7.7).

F IGURE 7.7 Plot of matric head (blue curve/left axis) and hydraulic conductivity (green curve/right axis) as a function of

volumetric soil moisture content.

d

q z = K( )

+ 1 = K( )

K( )

z

d

(7.3.12)

and the derivative term can be determined via the retention

curve model (Equation (7.3.10)):

The key point illustrated by Equation (7.3.12) is that the

flux at any depth in the soil is driven by two factors: i)

capillary forces driven by soil moisture gradients (first term)

and ii) gravity drainage (second term). The gravity term is

always acting downward (negative). The matric head term,

however, can act either upward or downward, depending on

the sign of the soil moisture gradient. If the soil moisture

gradient is positive (i.e. increasing soil moisture as you go up

in the soil column), then the matric head (gradient) term is

negative and reinforces the gravity term. If the soil moisture

gradient is negative (i.e. decreasing soil moisture as z increases

upward in the soil profile), then the matric head (gradient)

term is negative and acts against gravity. In both cases, the

matric head gradient term acts to drive flow from wetter soil

locations to drier soil locations. Depending on the conditions,

if the gradient is negative and large in magnitude, the first

term may be larger than the second so that flow will actually

be upward in the soil. The relative magnitude of the terms

and the sign of the matric head term will vary (significantly)

in time. During infiltration events, the soil moisture in the

surface layer will become moister than the soil below, driving

flow downward in conjunction with gravity. During a drydown period, where evaporation removes moisture from the

soil, the gradient in soil moisture may reverse and become

226

equation for unsaturated flow dynamics will be discussed in

the next section.

Finally, given the retention curve model, one can also

then more precisely define the values for other parameters like

the field capacity and wilting point that were mentioned in

Section 2. The field capacity is defined (albeit arbitrarily) as

the level of moisture reached after drainage for a few days or

more precisely the soil moisture corresponding to a matric

head of -340 cm (Dingman, 2008), which can be used in the

Brook-Corey model to invert for soil moisture:

340 cm

fc = s

1

b

(7.3.14)

the permanent wilting point is defined (again somewhat

arbitrarily) as the soil moisture at which the matric head is

equal to -15000 cm (i.e. very dry):

wp

15000 cm

= s

1

b

(7.3.15)

provide the bounds within which soil moisture is typically

found (except immediately after storms when the soil moisture

will be above field capacity) as shown in Figure 7.5.

E XAMPLE 7.3.1

Soil moisture sensors in the field show that the

volumetric soil moisture profile follows the

following linear relationship: (z) = surf mz

where z is the depth below the surface (i.e. is

zero at the surface and negative below the

surface) and m is a positive constant. Determine

an expression for the Darcy flux in the soil for

this soil moisture profile. Estimate the magnitude

and direction of the flux at a depth of 0.5 m if

the soil is a sandy loam, the slope m is equal to

0.05 m-1 and the surface volumetric soil moisture

is equal to 0.4.

If the soil moisture varies with depth, then so will the

matric head and hydraulic conductivity. The matric

(pressure) head in the soil is given by:

b

b

! mz $

! (z) $

&

(z) = s ##

&& = s ## surf

&

s

" s %

"

%

c

c

! mz $

! (z) $

&

K(z) = K s ##

&& = K s ## surf

&

s

" s %

"

%

227

flux is given by:

# &

#d &

q z = K( )% + 1( = K( )%

+ 1(

$ z

'

$ d z

'

(b+1)

= 1.87 cm/hr

(b+1)

bm # surf mz &

(

=

%

(

z

s s %$

s

'

where

" (z) %

d

b

= s $$

'

d

s # s '&

(2(4.9)+3)

= (12.49 cm /hr) $

'

(0.435)

#

&

(b+1)

" mz %

b

'

= s $$ surf

'

s #

s

&

and

(4.9)(.0005 cm 1 )

=

(21.8 cm)

(0.435)

(4.9+1)

%

(

(0.435)

$

'

= 0.295 cm cm -1

= m

z

yields:

c

" mz %

'

q z = K s $$ surf

'

#

&

s

(b+1)

(

+

"

%

mz

*bm $ surf

'

+

1

s

$

'

*

s

#

&

s

)

,

estimated from Tables 7.1 and 7.2. The hydraulic

conductivity at a depth of 0.5 m is given by:

gradient (equal to 1) and smaller in magnitude. This

tells us that the flow will be downward since the matric

head term is in the opposite direction but smaller than

the gravity term. The flux is given by:

which is negative and therefore downward.

" mz %

'

K(z = 0.5 m) = K s $$ surf

'

#

&

s

228

= q

t

S ECTION 4

Modeling Unsaturated

Zone Flow Dynamics

= (q z ) = K( )

+ 1

t

z

z

z

The modeling of unsaturated flow (or the unsaturated

flow equation) does not consist solely of Darcys Law, but

requires consideration of water going into or out of storage,

which changes the flow properties (matric head, hydraulic

conductivity). This can be done via application of the

dierential form of mass balance:

M

= ( wq dx dy dz)

t

(7.4.1)

(1.5.2) where the right-hand-side has been transformed from

the surface integral to one over the dierential volume via the

divergence theorem. The left-hand-side is the change in mass

storage and the right-hand-side represents the convergence of

flow into the dierential volume of soil. For an unsaturated

soil we can write that the mass of water in the dierential

volume is given by:

M = w dx dy dz

(7.4.3)

(7.4.2)

constant, and canceling like-terms yields:

(7.4.4)

soil moisture variable:

=

K(

)

+

1

t z

d

(7.4.5)

is often referred to as the diusivity (D), i.e.:

D( ) = K( )

d

d

(7.4.6)

In the case where the soil has vegetation roots within the

unsaturated zone, then a sink term S can be added:

"

t z #

z

&

(7.4.7)

The root uptake sink term (S) can vary with depth and time

depending on the root density structure and available soil

moisture. In the case of no vegetation or root uptake, S = 0

and Equation 7.4.7 reduces to 7.4.5. This becomes the

229

referred to as the Richards (1931) Equation. Note that this is

a second order nonlinear partial dierential equation (PDE)

where the dependent variable is soil moisture and the

independent variables are depth in the soil and time. To solve

this PDE, one needs 2 boundary conditions and an initial

condition. The domain this is applied over is the unsaturated

soil column and the boundary conditions correspond to those

at the surface (infiltration/evaporation) and at the lower

boundary (recharge flux into water table or saturated

conditions). The nonlinearity comes from the dependence of

the hydraulic conductivity and matric head on soil moisture.

Due to the nonlinearity and the complicated surface boundary

conditions, Richards Equation is dicult to solve analytically.

Therefore in most applications it must be solved numerically.

This involves discretizing the soil column into many layers and

using a finite dierence or finite element solution of the

equation.

Bras (1990) discusses some special case solutions to the

Richards Equation under various simplifying assumptions. For

example, if one assumes that the gravity term is negligible and

the the diusivity is constant, Equation (7.4.5) reduces to:

2

=D 2

t

z

(7.4.8)

by an abrupt shift to a dierent value that is held at the

surface (i.e. what might be seen in a high-intensity storm), the

solution to Equation (7.4.8) is given by (Eagleson, 1970):

" z

%

'

(z,t) = 0 + (i 0 )erf $

1/2

$# 2(Dt) '&

(7.4.10)

erf(y) =

e x dx

(7.4.11)

packages (i.e. erf in MATLAB). With such knowledge of the

moisture profile, one could then determine the Darcy flux

anywhere in the soil column. For the above solution this

would (again assuming the gravity term is negligible to be

consistent with the original assumption) be:

1/2

#D &

q z (z,t) = D

= (i 0 ) % (

z

$ t '

# z

&

(

exp %

% 2(Dt)1/2 (

$

'

(7.4.12)

mentioned above, analytical solutions to Richards Equation

are not possible and it must be solved numerically.

" ,

$

=# i

$% 0 ,

z 0,t = 0

(7.4.9)

z = 0,t > 0

230

E XAMPLE 7.4.1

E XAMPLE 7.4.1

7.3.1, determine the expression for the

instantaneous volumetric soil moisture storage

change.

profile and soil parameters. It can be further rearranged

to yield:

by:

c

" mz %

'

q z = K s $$ surf

'

#

&

s

(b+1)

(

+

"

%

mz

bm

surf

* $

'

+ 1'

* s$

s

#

&

s

)

,

the z direction is given by the following expression for

this case:

(b+2)+c

# mz &

bcm

(

= K s 2 s %% surf

(

t

s

$

'

s

2

K sb(b + 1)m 2

s2

c1

cm # surf mz &

%

(

+ Ks

(

s %$

s

'

(b+2)+c

# mz &

(

s %% surf

(

$

'

s

(b+2)+c

# mz &

bm

(

= (c + b + 1)K s 2 s %% surf

(

s

$

'

s

2

c1

cm # surf mz &

%

(

Ks

(

s %$

s

'

#

&,

)

= (q z ) = +K(z)% (z) + 1(.

t

z

z *

$ z

'#

&

2

=

K(z) % (z) + 1( + K(z) 2 (z)

z

z

$ z

'

c1 #

(b+1)

&

)

,

)

,

mz

mz

cm

bm

. % s + surf

.

=

K s ++ surf

+ 1( +

.

+

.

%

(

s

s

s

*

- $ s

*

'

) mz ,

.

K s ++ surf

.

*

s

(b+2) &

#

2

)

,

mz

%b(b + 1)m + surf

(

.

s+

2

.

%

(

s

s

*

$

'

231

d

f (t) = K( [z = 0,t ])

d z

S ECTION 5

Infiltration

A complete modeling of unsaturated zone dynamics

requires the solution of Richards equation. If the soil moisture

profile evolution is known, then everything about storage and

flux in the entire unsaturated zone is known (or can be

determined). The one aspect of unsaturated flow that is of

most interest to hydrologists is infiltration, which is the flux

at the surface resulting from a precipitation event. The prime

motivation for modeling infiltration is that, if infiltration and

precipitation are known, then the surface runo is known. The

infiltration rate can be defined as:

z =0

(7.5.1)

+ K( [z = 0,t ])

(7.5.3)

z =0,t

its gradient at the surface. The above expression provides the

infiltration rate ([L/T]). In some cases, the cumulative

infiltration ([L]) is used which is defined by:

F(t) =

f (t )dt f (t) =

0

dF

dt

(7.5.4)

1. Solve Richards Equation which provides q everywhere

including at the surface, but is computationally expensive.

2. Develop models based on some simplifying assumptions.

negative sign is used because the Darcy flux is defined as

positive upwards, but the infiltration is typically defined as

positive downward. Note that the infiltration rate is only a

function of time since it is the Darcy flux evaluated at the

surface which removes the spatial dependence. Substituting

Darcys Law into the above equation yields:

f (t) = K

+ 1

z

z =0

which can be written more explicitly as:

(7.5.2)

232

will focus on the qualitative nature of the infiltration process.

Movie 7.1 illustrates the process of infiltration for a sand, silt,

and clay all experiencing the same rainfall rate. It should be

noted that the flux of water could also be from snowmelt.

Hereafter, a storm is used to refer to either case.

Figure 7.8 illustrates the soil moisture profile at dierent

times during a typical infiltration event. The limiting cases

will be discussed afterward. The initial soil moisture profile

(just before the start of infiltration) is uniform with depth

with the available storage being equal to the dierence

between the porosity and the initial volumetric soil moisture.

When infiltration begins, a so-called wetting front develops.

Early on in the storm, i.e. before the ponding time (tp), all of

the water can be infiltrated, i.e.:

f = P;

t tp

soil at the surface faster than it can be drained from below. So

the soil moisture becomes larger over time near the surface,

ultimately filling the pores so that the soil becomes saturated

at the surface. The time at which the soil surface becomes

saturated is the ponding time, referring to the fact that at

that time, water will begin to pond (build up) at the surface

and will have the condition:

Note the general downward movement of the infiltration front

and the diffusion of the front over time.

At t = t p :

(z = 0,t p ) = s ;

K( [z = 0,t p ]) = K s ;

0<

=

z z

z =0,t =t p

233

moisture gradient at the surface gets smaller over time:

At t > t p :

(z = 0,t > t p ) = s ;

K( [z = 0,t > t p ]) = K s ;

0<

=

z z

<

t >t p

t =t p

Recall from Equation (7.5.3) that the first term in the

infiltration is proportional to the soil moisture gradient (at the

surface), while the second term is equal to the hydraulic

conductivity (at the surface). Since the gravity term at the

surface is constant after ponding, the implication is that as

the soil moisture gradient decreases over time the infiltration

rate will also decrease over time. Figure 7.9 shows a schematic

of the actual infiltration rate as a function of time, which can

be written mathematically as:

P, t t t

0

p

f (t) = *

f (t), t p t tr

(7.5.5)

function and tr is the duration of the storm (or snowmelt).

Note that in the context of solving Richards Equation, this is

equivalent to a switching boundary condition: a flux

(Neumann) boundary condition before tp and a moisture

(Dirichlet) boundary condition after tp. Note that the

infiltration is not expected to decay to zero. Rather, at the

time when the soil moisture gradient at the surface reaches

zero (i.e. first term in the Darcy flux is zero) the infiltration

rate will simply be driven by gravity and equal to the

Prior to ponding all rainfall infiltrates, while after ponding the

infiltration capacity rate limits the rate at which water can enter the soil (adapted from Mays, 2005).

reached during a given storm depends on factors like the

initial condition, storm intensity/duration, and soil properties.

Beyond t=tr, the infiltration will cease and redistribution of

soil moisture will ensue.

Some limiting conditions to infiltration are worth

mentioning. For very intense storms or highly impervious soils

(P >> Ks), one would expect immediate ponding (tp = 0). In

this case there would not be a constant infiltration rate early

234

over the entire course of the storm, i.e.:

f (t) = f *(t),

t 0 = t p t tr

(7.5.6)

potential infiltration) that will be used in the next section to

determine the actual infiltration. These situations will

generally yield large amounts of runo. In the other limit

where a storm intensity is weak and/or the soil is extremely

pervious (P < Ks), one would expect no ponding to occur at

all. In this case there would simply be a constant amount of

infiltration rate equal to the storm intensity (P), but less than

the soil conductivity (Ks), i.e.:

f (t) = P,

t 0 t tr

(7.5.7)

conditions relative to soil properties (from COMET program).

7.2 illustrates this special case, whereas Movie 7.3 illustrates

the more general case where infiltration is insucient to

remove the precipitation from the surface, thus resulting in

surface runo.

conditions relative to soil properties (from COMET program).

235

S ECTION 6

Infiltration Capacity

Models

In the discussion of infiltration in the previous section it

was mentioned that after ponding the infiltration rate should

be described by a monotonically decaying function f*(t). To

gain some insight into that function, and ultimately derive it,

we can start by examining models for infiltration

capacity (or potential infiltration): fc(t), which is the

infiltration rate that would occur under immediately ponded

conditions. Analytical models for the infiltration capacity can

be developed under the following simplifying conditions:

1. Ponded upper boundary condition, i.e.:

(z = 0,t) = s

2. The unsaturated zone is infinitely deep, i.e. the

groundwater table is not near the surface

3. The initial condition is uniform with depth, i.e.:

(z,t 0 ) = 0

Under these conditions, two commonly used models for

infiltration capacity can be developed: the Philip solution and

the Green-Ampt model. Note that the analytical model for

flow shown in Equation (7.4.12) was derived under similar

additional assumption that the gravity term was negligible.

An infinite series solution to Richards Equation for the

infiltration rate under these conditions is given by:

fc (t) = q z

z =0

(7.6.1)

The Philip (1960) solution keeps the first two terms, which is

expected to be valid under short times:

fc (t) =

Sp

2

(7.6.2)

t 1/2 + K s

2b + 3

S p = (s 0 )K s s

b

+

3

1/2

(7.6.3)

This solution predicts that the decay occurs to the order t -1/2,

and asymptotes to Ks as expected. Interestingly, the constant

diusivity case shown in Equation (7.4.12) (when evaluated at

the surface: z = 0) shows the same time dependence. In some

versions of the model, Ks is replaced by a fitting parameter.

Also note the sorptivity is only a function of soil properties

and the (uniform) initial condition (before infiltration begins).

Based on the above model, the cumulative infiltration

capacity can be derived directly:

Fc (t) =

f (t )dt = S t

t0

1/2

+ K st

(7.6.4)

236

The second model often used for infiltration capacity is

the so-called Green-Ampt (1911) model. This model uses the

same assumptions as those above, with one additional

simplification: the wetting front is a discontinuous front at

depth z = -Lf (Figure 7.10). The Green-Ampt model applies

Darcys Law across the wetting front:

qz = K s

h hsurf

dh

K s f

dz

z f z surf

(7.6.5)

h f = f + z f = f Lf

(7.6.6)

2b + 3

f

b + 3 s

(7.6.7)

(7.6.8)

Substituting these into Equation (7.6.5) yields:

fc (t) = q z = K s

Lf + f

Lf

= K s 1 +

Lf

(7.6.9)

This is not the final solution however since the length of the

wetting front (Lf) itself depends on the amount of cumulative

infiltration, i.e.:

Fc (t) = Lf (s 0 )

F IGURE 7.10 Conceptualization used to represent the wetting front in the Green-Ampt model for infiltration capacity

(adapted from Mays, 2005).

(7.6.10)

Lf =

Fc (t)

(s 0 )

(7.6.11)

237

f (s 0 ) dF

= c

fc (t) = K s 1 +

Fc

dt

(7.6.12)

can be integrated via separation of variables to yield the

following (implicit) solution:

f (s 0 )

1

t=

Fc (t) + f (s 0 )ln

Ks

Fc (t) + f (s 0 )

(7.6.13)

solution (i.e. known in terms of the dependent variable instead

of the independent variable) rather than the generally

preferred explicit solution. To determine fc(t) one can use the

following method:

1. Choose values of Fc over a range of increasing values: [0

Fc1, Fc2, ... ]

2. Solve for t using Equation (7.6.13) to get: [0, t1, t2, ...].

Keep those solutions in the range between 0 and tr.

3. Estimate fc(t) using Equation (7.6.12) corresponding to

each time.

238

S ECTION 7

Both the Philip and Green-Ampt solutions assume

ponded conditions to obtain analytical solutions for the

infiltration capacity: fc(t). In addition to the ponded surface

condition, they assume that the initial condition is uniform

with depth and the unsaturated zone is very deep. These

equations would only give us models for the actual infiltration

rate if the actual conditions corresponded to those described

above. In general that is not the case. When the precipitation

rate (P) is not intense enough to cause immediate ponding,

then initially the infiltration rate will equal the precipitation

rate. If ponding does occur during the course of the storm

(depends on soil type and precipitation intensity), then from

that point forward we would expect the infiltration rate to

decrease in a way similar to that described by the infiltration

capacity curves mentioned above.

The basic idea behind the time-compression

approximation (TCA) is to avoid having to solve Richards

Equation numerically for a general set of conditions and

instead use a time-shifted analytical infiltration capacity curve

(shifted by a compression time tc) to determine the

infiltration after the time to ponding (tp). Note that the time

described below. Given this general model for actual

infiltration, for a storm starting at time t0 = 0, with intensity

(P), and duration tr, we can write the actual infiltration rate

mathematically as:

P, t 0 t t p

f (t) =

fc (t tc ), t p t tr

(7.7.1)

function is kept general in terms of notation, but could be

either the Philip or Green-Ampt models where the time

using the time-compression approximation. The dotted line represents an infiltration capacity model (i.e. under immediately

ponded conditions) which is shifted by the compression time.

239

this just represents a time-shift to the right. This is in

acknowledgment of the fact that the decay behavior after

ponding should be comparable to infiltration capacity. In the

above model for actual infiltration there are two unknowns: tp

and tc that need to be determined. A conceptual picture of

this model is shown in Figure 7.11.

To determine the two unknowns we need to construct

two independent equations that constrain the model. These

conditions should provide physically-based constraints on the

actual infiltration model. The first, and perhaps easiest to

understand, is simply that the infiltration rate as predicted by

the shifted analytical model should equal the precipitation

rate at the ponding time:

fc (t tc )

t =t p

= fc (t p tc ) = P(t p )

TCA (i.e. matching infiltration rates at ponding time).

(7.7.2)

continuous in time (as it should be) and is shown graphically

in Figure 7.12. The second condition may be a bit less

intuitive, but has to do with making sure that at the ponding

time, the amount of cumulative infiltration predicted by the

analytical model is consistent with how much has actually

occurred. This is just another way of saying that the starting

point in the infiltration capacity curve is that which would be

expected given the actual cumulative infiltration. This can be

written mathematically as:

tp

t p tc

P(t)dt =

fc (t)dt

(7.7.3)

Pt p =

t p tc

fc (t)dt

(7.7.4)

Equations (7.7.2) and (7.7.3) represent two equations for the

two unknowns tp and tc. Keep in mind that the expressions are

in terms of a general infiltration capacity model. So these two

240

If applying the Philip solution (and assuming the storm

intensity P is constant), using Equations (7.7.2) and (7.7.4), it

can be shown that:

tp =

S p2

Ks

1

+

2P(P K s )

2(P K s )

Sp

tc = t p

2(P

K

)

(7.7.5)

(7.7.6)

where the actual infiltration rate over the entire storm is then

given by:

P, t 0 t t p

f (t) = S

p

(t tc )1/2 + K s , t p t tr

(7.7.7)

Equations (7.7.5) and (7.7.6). Note that the ponding and

compression times depend on both the storm intensity and

soil properties.

the TCA (i.e. matching the cumulative infiltration up to the

ponding time).

infiltration capacity model (e.g. Philip or Green-Ampt).

Similarly, if using the Green-Ampt model, it can be

shown that:

tp =

Ks

( 0 )

P(P K s ) f s

( )

1

f

s

0

tc = t p

Pt p + f (s 0 )ln

Ks

Pt

+

p

f

s

0

(7.7.8)

(7.7.9)

241

where the actual infiltration rate over the entire storm is then

given by:

) P,

+

+

# ( )&

f (t) = *

f

s

0

(,

+ K s %1 +

%

Fc (t tc ) ('

+,

$

t0 t t p

t p t tr

(7.7.10)

Green-Ampt model equation as described above.

Given these models for actual infiltration, it is worth

reiterating the special cases mentioned above:

1. In the case of a high intensity precipitation event, i.e.

P

it can be seen that for either model, the time to ponding and

compression time both go to zero. This simply reduces the

actual infiltration rate to the infiltration capacity rate (as

would be expected since it is consistent with the original

assumption of instantaneous ponding).

2. In the case where the precipitation rate is less than the

saturated hydraulic conductivity of the soil, then no ponding

will ever occur (since both infiltration capacity curves

asymptote to the hydraulic conductivity). In this case the

actual infiltration rate is simply given by: f(t) = P and the

above computation of ponding and compression times can be

skipped altogether. So it is important to first check whether P

> Ks when computing actual infiltration. Otherwise, using the

and compression times. Once known, the actual infiltration

function can be used to estimate cumulative infiltration and

the so-called infiltration excess runo during the storm. The

discussion of runo is saved for Chapter 10.

E XAMPLE 7.7.1

A rainstorm of duration tr = 8 hr and constant

rainfall intensity P= 30 mm hr-1 occurs over an

area which has a soil type characterized by the

following parameters:

The soil has an initial soil relative saturation of

50%. Compute the actual cumulative infiltration

from this storm.

To compute the actual infiltration we should use the

time-compression approximation which requires the

choice of an infiltration capacity model. Here we will use

the Philip solution for infiltration capacity. As a first

step it needs to be determined whether ponding is

possible. Since P > Ks in this case, there is at least the

potential for ponding so that the ponding time and

compression time equations can be applied. If this were

not the case there would be no runo and all water

would infiltrate.

242

sorptivity (Equation (7.6.3)):

cumulative infiltration if all water infiltrated. Ponding

generates runo and reduces infiltration.

1/2

(

" 2(1) + 3 %+

S p = *(0.35 0.5(0.35))(11 mm/h) 500 mm $

'(1)

+

3

#

&,

)

34.7 mm h 1 2

where the relevant parameters (using Equations (7.7.8)

and (7.7.9)) are:

compute the ponding and compression times:

! 2(1) + 3 $

f = #

&(500 mm) = 625 mm

1

+

3

"

%

"

%

(34.7 mm h 1/2 )2

11 mm/h

tp =

$1 +

'

2(30 mm/h)(30 11) mm/h # 2(30 11) mm/h &

(s 0 )=0.175;

= 1.36 h

2

obtained by integrating Equation (7.7.7):

tr

0

mm

mm

(1.36 h) + (34.7 1/2 )[(7.47 h)1/2

h

h

1/2

(0.83 h) ] + K s (6.64 h) = 177 mm

tc = 2.1 hr

1

"(30 mm/h)(2.1 h) + (109.375 mm)

11 mm/h #

= 0.9 h

= 30

11 mm/h

(109.375 mm)

(30 mm/h)(30 11) mm/h

= 2.1 hr

tp =

tc = 1.36 h $

' = 0.53 h

2(30

11)

mm/h

#

&

F(t = tr ) =

f (s 0 ) = 109.375 mm

can be obtained via Equation (7.6.13). By construct, at

time t = tp, the cumulative infiltration should equal Ptp.

The cumulative infiltration at the end of the storm will

be the cumulative infiltration corresponding to the time:

t = tr - tc. Doing so, yields a cumulative infiltration:

243

Fc (t = tr tc = 7.1 h) = 187 mm

which is about 6% dierent than predicted by the Philip

solution.

244

S ECTION 8

MOD-WET Codes

Relevant functions based on concepts introduced in

this chapter include:

Brook-Corey retention curve model:

brooks_corey_PSI_and_K.m

Field capacity (using Brooks-Corey model):

field_capacity.m

Green-Ampt infiltration capacity model:

green_ampt.m

Philip infiltration capacity model:

philip.m

Soil sorptivity:

sorptivity.m

Time-compression approximation for actual infiltration:

TCA_infiltration.m

Permanent wilting point (using Brooks-Corey model):

wilting_point.m

245

S ECTION 9

Conceptual Questions

1. Define the meaning of porosity. How is it used to transform

between volumetric water content and relative saturation in

a soil?

2. What are the three end-member soil types in the SCS soil

triangle?

3. Which has a higher porosity, sand or clay? Which has a

higher field capacity? Which has a higher wilting point?

4. What are the two terms in the piezometric head? Describe

what each term physically represents.

5. What is the sign of matric head. Explain why.

6. How does the hydraulic conductivity and matric head

change as soil moisture decreases.

known, allows for the determination of everything else

about the system. Hint: It is the dependent variable in

Richards equation.

10. Mathematically, how are the infiltration rate and

cumulative infiltration related?

11. Concisely explain the dierence between an infiltration

capacity rate and an actual infiltration rate. Under what

conditions are they the same?

12. Name the two commonly used models for infiltration

capacity.

13. Concisely describe the conceptual meaning of the ponding

time and compression time that are solved for in the timecompression approximation for infiltration.

14. If for a particular storm the precipitation intensity is less

than the saturated hydraulic conductivity of the soil, do

you need to apply the time compression approximation?

Justify your answer.

7. The Darcy flux dictates that the flow (per unit area) is

proportional to the piezometric head gradient. What soil

property is the proportionality constant in the Darcy

equation? What two factors generally cause that parameter

to vary in unsaturated soil (i.e. what does it depend on)?

8. When fully expanded, what are the two terms in the Darcy

flux in an unsaturated soil? Explain the physical meaning of

each term.

246

S ECTION 10

Sample Problems

Problem 7.1. After collecting multiple soil samples in the

field, you return to the laboratory and conduct soils tests to

classify the soil types present in your study basin. Sieve

analysis indicates that soil #1 has a composition of 34% sand

and 46% silt, while soil #2 has a composition of 81% sand

and 15% silt.

a) Classify both soils (i.e. determine the soil texture) using

the soil texture triangle. Based on the soil parameters listed in

Tables 7.1 and 7.2, plot the matric head and conductivity vs.

volumetric soil moisture curves for these two soils. Discuss the

relationship between soil moisture and matric head and

hydraulic conductivity. How do these relationships vary with

soil type?

Use the soil parameters from part a) for soil #1 to answer the

following:

b) Soil moisture sensors installed at location #1 (i.e. the

sampling site of soil #1) indicate that the volumetric soil

moisture profile at a given snapshot in time is:

(z) = 0 + az;

2 m z 0

0.05 m-1 , and the soil moisture at the surface (i.e. z = 0 m) is

0.28. Compute and plot the soil moisture profile.

c) For this soil and soil moisture profile, write the

corresponding analytical expression for the profile of matric

(suction) head. Compute and plot the matric head profile. Be

careful with the signs.

d) For this soil and soil moisture profile, write the

corresponding analytical expression for the profile of

piezometric head (matric head plus elevation head). Compute

and plot the head profile. What can you say qualitatively

about the flow direction based on the head profile? Justify

your answer.

e) Write the corresponding equation for the Darcy flux

(vertical flow) as a function of depth based on the above

profile. What is the magnitude and direction of the flux (in

units of cm/day) at a depth of 0.65 meters? What is the

relative saturation at this depth?

f ) The field capacity and permanent wilting point provide

bounds on typically observed soil moisture. Compute these

parameters and comment on how the profile compares to

these values.

g) Richards equation (mass balance) indicates how soil

moisture storage will increase or decrease (i.e. fill up or drain

from the pores) over the profile, i.e. for one-dimension:

247

q(z)

=

t

z

2.65 g cm-3, bulk density 1.72 g cm-3, and Brooks-Corey

parameters:

a given time dictates exactly how storage is changing over the

profile. Based on your expression for the Darcy flux derived

above, derive an expression for the storage change and plot

the profile of storage change. Discuss where water is going

into/out of storage in the profile.

s = 50 cm; K s = 25 mm hr -1; b = 1

conditions (i.e. the case where the Darcy flux is equal to zero).

For this special case, derive an expression for the value of the

matric head gradient.

Problem 7.2.

a) The Philip and Green-Ampt equations provide models for

infiltration capacity (or potential infiltration). What

assumptions are used in the development of the Philip and

Green-Ampt infiltration capacity models? Clearly explain the

dierence between actual infiltration rate and infiltration

capacity (potential infiltration). Under what specific

conditions are the two the same?

b) What factors aect the infiltration (capacity) rate?

Explain.

c) Compute and plot (on the same figure) the infiltration

capacity (in mm/hour) curves vs. time for both models for a

two-hour storm. Assume the initial relative soil saturation

(not volumetric soil moisture) is equal to 0.35. The soil is

models at the end of the storm? How similar/dierent are the

two model predictions? Explain.

Problem 7.3. A rainstorm of duration tr = 18 hr and rainfall

intensity P = 30 mm hr-1 occurs over an area which is

classified as a Sandy Clay Loam with an initial soil saturation

of 50%. These conditions will form the baseline case for the

sensitivity tests described below. Note: Any computations

related to the actual infiltration rate implies you should use

the time compression approximation (TCA). Here you can use

the TCA with the Philip solution.

a) What is the physical meaning of the ponding time in

infiltration? Under what storm intensity condition will

ponding never occur? Compute the ponding time for the

baseline case.

b) Compute and plot the ponding time for a range of storm

intensities consisting of the baseline case, 50% of the baseline

case and 200% of the baseline case. Explain the trend seen in

ponding time as a function of precipitation rate.

c) Compute and plot the ponding time for a range of initial

conditions consisting of the baseline case, 5%, 25%, 75%, and

248

time as a function of initial condition.

storm?

infiltration excess runo (in mm) for the baseline storm case.

e) What fraction of the total rainfall is converted to runo for

the baseline case?

f ) Qualitatively, how would your answers to parts d) and e)

change if the precipitation intensity was higher than the

baseline case?

g) Qualitatively, how would your answers to parts d) and e)

change if the initial condition in soil moisture was lower than

the baseline case?

h) Qualitatively, how would your answers to parts d) and e)

change if the soil type were a sand?

Problem 7.4. After a prolonged drought, a sandy soil is

completely desiccated (s = 0). Based on soil properties, the

soil is determined to have a sorptivity of Sp = 21.8 cm hr-1/2.

A storm of duration tr = 5 hours and of constant intensity P

= 6 cm hr-1 occurs. Using the Philip solution for infiltration

capacity and the time-compression approximation:

a) Write the analytical equation for the time-to-ponding for

these dry conditions.

b) Using your expression from part a), what is the time-toponding for this storm?

249

Chapter 8

Evaporation

S ECTION 1

Learning Objectives

By the time you finish this chapter you should be able to:

resistance to turbulent heat transfer

11. Define the Bowen ratio

12. Compute the Bowen ratio from dual-level measurements

of air temperature and humidity

occur

Ratio (EBBR) method

latent heat flux, and depth flux (i.e. flux density)

14. Compute the latent and sensible heat flux using the

mass-transfer approach

heat flux

estimate potential evaporation and/or evapotranspiration

respectively

5. Write down the surface energy balance

6. Define the individual terms of the surface energy balance

and what they represent

their stomata and what environmental factors regulate

transpiration

17. Explain and compute the vegetation canopy resistance

equation

8. Describe the functional form of the average horizontal

wind speed profile in the atmospheric surface layer

9. Determine the aerodynamic roughness length and zeroplane displacement height in terms of the height of surface

roughness elements

251

S ECTION 2

Basics of Evapotranspiration

Evapotranspiration (ET) refers to all the processes by

which water in liquid phase at or near the Earths surface

becomes atmospheric water vapor. In particular it generally

refers to the flux of water from the surface into the

atmosphere. Evaporation usually describes the direct

vaporization of water from either open water surfaces or bare

soil. Transpiration refers to water loss from within the leaves

of plants. Together the two fluxes are referred to as

evapotranspiration. Sublimation is a special case whereby

vaporization occurs directly from ice. A more comprehensive

treatment of evaporation is given in Brutsaert (1982).

the antecedent soil moisture before the subsequent storm,

which impacts runo and flooding.

4. Evapotranspiration is a key flux that couples the surface

water and energy budgets (i.e. recall SEB in Chapter 6:

Rn - G = LE + H).

The direct measurement of evapotranspiration however is

extremely dicult, especially compared to other variables like

precipitation and streamflow. The closest readily-available

measurement networks are so-called evaporation pans (Figure

Evapotranspiration is important for several reasons

including:

1. The long-term water balance, which depends on

evapotranspiration (as well as precipitation and runo)

determines the available water for human use.

2. Much of the food supply is grown via irrigated agriculture

and ecient irrigation practices requires knowledge of

evapotranspiration.

F IGURE 8.1 Photo of a standard evaporation pan which provides an estimate of potential evaporation.

252

sparsely distributed and do not measure actual

evapotranspiration, but rather the potential evaporation

(discussed in more detail below). As a result, estimates of ET

are most often made via the use of models that require more

readily-available measurements.

Long-term estimates of ET can be determined via

developments already discussed earlier, namely mass balance

and/or energy balance. For example for a watershed control

volume, the long-term average mass balance can be written as:

dS

= P E Q 0

dt

(8.2.1)

terms are known:

E = P Q

(8.2.2)

as:

G = Rn LE H 0

(8.2.3)

assumed small for similar reasons to the long-term water

storage. A non-zero value would imply a continual warming/

cooling of the surface. Again, solving for the ET (specifically

in terms of latent heat flux) as a residual yields:

LE = Rn H

estimating the long-term values of ET for a given control

volume. In many applications we need to estimate it over

much shorter time-scales (e.g. hourly or daily). The remainder

of the chapter focuses on models useful for that purpose.

In terms of the basic physics of ET, one can think of

three necessary requirements:

1. A water source (generally an open water surface, soil

moisture, or snowpack),

2. An energy input for vaporization (generally in the form of

net radiation Rn),

3. A transport mechanism to remove vapor-rich air from the

near-surface (otherwise air will saturate; need gradients in

moisture to maintain a net flux).

Note that when water is not a limiting factor in the surface

ET (e.g. open water surfaces or very moist soil), then only the

second and third requirements control the ET flux. Under

such conditions, the evapotranspiration flux is referred to as

the potential evapotranspiration (Ep), which may be referred

to as potential evaporation or potential evapotranspiration in

the case of a bare soil or vegetated surface respectively. By

definition the actual evapotranspiration must be less than or

equal to the potential evapotranspiration, i.e.:

E Ep

(8.2.4)

253

S ECTION 3

Evaporation

Evaporation is the net flux of vapor from the surface to

the overlying air. In truth, e.g. over a water surface, individual

molecules are continually moving (somewhat randomly) from

the air to the liquid water phase and vice versa (Figure 8.2).

If the rate of exchange is balanced, then there is no net flux

and hence the evaporation is zero. If there are more water

molecules leaving the liquid phase than returning to it, then

evaporation is occurring. Conversely, if more water molecules

are entering the liquid surface than leaving it, the net flux is a

condensation flux.

Evaporation can be thought of as a diusive process,

whereby a flux is driven by concentration gradients. In this

case, the concentration refers to the concentration of water

vapor molecules, which can be expressed in terms of the vapor

pressure. Over a liquid water surface, the air in immediate

contact with the liquid has a saturated vapor pressure. So

when the air above the surface layer is sub-saturated, there is

a gradient in vapor concentration, which would be expected to

correspond to a vapor flux away from the surface. It is

important to remember that the saturated vapor pressure is a

function solely of temperature, hence if there is a temperature

gradient between the surface (Ts) and the overlying air (Ta),

this may lead to a vapor pressure gradient even if both are

saturated. In Figure 8.3 the air in contact with the liquid has

a vapor pressure equal to es(Ts), while that above is at

ea<es(Ts). Under these conditions, there would be expected to

be an evaporative flux away from the surface. In general,

neither the surface or overlying air may be saturated, however

the gradients will still drive the net flux.

Speaking more generally of a diusive flux, the rate of

transfer (flux) of constituent X in direction z can be written

(using Ficks 1st Law):

Fz (X ) = DX

bulk water surface and the overlying air (adapted from Dingman,

2008).

dC(X )

dz

(8.3.1)

the diusivity of constituent X in the fluid (in this case air).

This simply states that the flux is expected to be driven from

254

concentration gradient) where the diusivity is a constant of

proportionality (to be determined). Note this is analogous in

form to Darcys Law and can be used to describe dierent

fluxes in many systems.

If applied to water vapor in the atmosphere (i.e.

evaporation) we can write:

E = Fz (vapor) = Dv

d v

dq

de

= Dv

= Dv

dz

dz

p dz

(8.3.2)

flux, the above could simply be multiplied by the latent heat

of vaporization (Lv). The sensible heat flux in the SEB can

also be conceptualized as a diusive flux (of heat) and is

therefore presented here in parallel to evaporation:

H = Fz (heat) = DH

d( c pTa )

dz

= c pDH

dTa

dz

(8.3.3)

unit analysis, the density in Equations (8.3.2) and (8.3.3) is

air density. The specific heat of air is: cp = 1004 J kg-1 K-1.

The next question is what are the diusivities related to?

When dealing with molecular diusion (e.g. envision dye

diusing in a water-filled beaker), the diusivities are simply

related to the constituent and the fluid. However in landatmosphere interaction, molecular diusion is not the driving

process. Instead, it is turbulent fluid motions in the

to higher in the atmosphere (and vice versa). These turbulent

eddies, which are caused by frictional wind shear and thermal

stratification in the surface layer (i.e. lower few hundred

meters) of the atmosphere, are much more ecient than

molecular diusion in transporting vapor, heat, and

momentum between the land and atmosphere. Figure 8.3

shows a schematic of the mean horizontal wind profile as a

function of height above the surface as well as turbulent

eddies (of varying sizes) superimposed on the mean flow. At

the rough surface the mean velocity must be zero (no-slip

boundary condition), and much higher in the troposphere it is

driven by the large-scale circulation of the atmosphere. The

surface layer is the lower portion of the atmosphere where

there is a strong gradient in the horizontal velocity profile.

The profile of the mean horizontal wind for a neutral

surface layer (i.e. with a temperature gradient equal to zero)

has a well-known logarithmic form:

V (z) =

u* " z d %

ln $

';

# z0 &

z > z0 + d

(8.3.4)

u* friction velocity

The parameters z0 and d are called the momentum roughness

height and zero-plane displacement height respectively and are

representative of the impact of the roughness of the surface on

the mean flow. They are often parameterized in terms of a

characteristic roughness height of the surface (h) as:

255

z 0 0.1h

d 0.7h

(8.3.5)

V

>0

z

(8.3.6)

overturning of the fluid leading to turbulence. The other

mechanism is if the surface layer also exhibits a temperature

gradient (i.e. non-neutral). The surface layer generally has a

positive temperature gradient (unstable condition) during the

daytime and a negative temperature (stable condition)

gradient at night. The unstable condition generally enhances

turbulence while the stable condition generally suppresses

turbulence. The positive wind shear also implies a negative

(i.e. toward the surface) momentum flux.

the mean flow. Turbulence is generated mechanically by wind

shear (forced convection) and can be enhanced or suppressed

by thermal gradients in the surface layer (free convection). The

turbulence is the primary transport mechanism for energy, water vapor and momentum fluxes between the surface and atmosphere (adapted from Dingman, 2008).

So the diusivities in the flux equations for E and H are

related to turbulence. Here we will focus on the case over bare

soil/open water and will extend to vegetated surfaces in the

next section. If it is assumed that DH = DV, it can be shown

that the impact of turbulence can be embedded in E and H

models (using a finite dierence approximation):

2V22

(q 2 q1 )

2

( " z d %+ (V2 V1 )

** ln $ 2

'-z

) # 0 &,

(8.3.7)

256

(8.3.8)

2V22

(T2 T1 )

H c p

2

( " z d %+ (V2 V1 )

** ln $ 2

'-z

) # 0 &,

variables at two measurement levels: z1 and z2. The above

models are for a neutral surface layer. Note that, strictly

speaking, we would expect the sensible heat flux to approach

zero in neutral conditions since the temperature gradient is

zero. Modifications to account for thermal stability eects can

be included (shown below). In applying these models we often

choose one level to be at the surface (i.e. z1 = z0 + d) where

by definition V1 = 0 and re-define the other variables as:

T1 = Tsurf ,

q1 = q surf , V2 = V ,

T2 = Ta ,

raN

that recognizes enhancement or suppression of resistance to

turbulent transport in unstable or stable conditions

respectively. A commonly used empirical form for these

functions are (Businger et al., 1971):

h = m2 = (1 15RiB )1/2 ;

h = m = (1 5RiB )1;

RiB 0 (unstable)

0 RiB < 0.2 (stable)

(8.3.11)

where RiB is the bulk Richardson number, which is a nondimensional ratio of the thermal stability to wind shear:

q 2 = qa

turbulent transport (under neutral conditions):

( " z d %+

** ln $

'-) # z 0 &,

=

2V

(8.3.10)

ra = raN mh

RiB =

(g /Tsurf )T z

(V z)

(8.3.12)

(8.3.9)

This resistance has dimensions of T/L (i.e. s m-1). The height

z in Equation (8.3.9) is the reference-level height at which the

meteorological measurements are taken (e.g. often 2 meters

above the surface). For the more general (non-neutral surface

layer) case, the resistance can be generalized using the

approximation:

gradient in the above equation is zero):

RiB = 0;

m = h = 1

(8.3.13)

reduces to the neutral value shown in Equation (8.3.9). The

sign of the temperature gradient in the surface layer

(numerator in Equation (8.3.12)) controls the sign of RiB

which corresponds to unstable or stable conditions. For

unstable conditions (negative temperature gradient), the

257

stability correction factors are less than 1.0 (which reduces the

resistance; enhanced turbulence), while for stable conditions

they are greater than 1.0 (which increases the resistance;

suppressed turbulence).

Using this notation the evaporation flux model can be

written as:

E=

(q surf qa )

ra

(8.3.14)

LE = Lv

(q surf qa )

ra

(8.3.15)

H = c p

(Tsurf Ta )

ra

(8.3.16)

conceptualize these fluxes using a circuit analogy, where the

current in this context is the flux, the potential dierence

is the dierence in either humidity or temperature and ra is

the resistance. This will be discussed more in the next section.

These so-called mass-transfer (or diusion analogy)

models show that the flux is proportional to the dierences in

the relevant variables between the surface and reference-level,

and the resistance describes how eciently the turbulence is

the resistance model, it can be seen that as the reference-level

velocity increases, the resistance decreases (which causes the

flux to increase). This is because a larger reference-level

velocity implies more surface layer turbulence, which will

increase the turbulent transport. Similarly, if the roughness of

the surface increases, turbulence will also increase, reducing

the resistance and increasing the fluxes. It should be noted

that these flux models so far have been developed for bare soil

or open water surfaces only. The resistance analogy becomes

useful as other factors (most notably vegetation) become

relevant, the eects of which can also be embedded in a

resistance term. Then the law of resistances in series or

parallel used in circuits can be used to easily augment these

models. For example, in some models an additional resistance

is used to model the barrier in vapor leaving the soil in which

case the resistance in the denominator of Equations (8.3.15)

and (8.3.16) can be replaced by: r = rsoil + ra.

To estimate the fluxes using the above models requires

specification of time-varying variables including:

meteorological measurements (V, Ta, qa, i.e. from a weather

station), and surface states Tsurf and qsurf, as well as relatively

static surface characteristic roughness parameters (h, z0, d).

The surface states are often predicted as part of a land-surface

model (i.e. that models the surface energy/water balance).

The fluxes are driven by gradients in humidity and

temperature between the surface and atmosphere (larger

gradient yields larger fluxes) and regulated by turbulent

transport (smaller resistance yields larger fluxes).

258

Over well-watered surfaces (i.e. open water or moist soil),

the air in contact with the surface is expected to be saturated.

In this special case one can generally assume: qsurf = qs(Tsurf)

which is equivalent to E = Ep (i.e. potential evaporation).

Based on this, one model used for potential evaporation is:

Ep =

(q s (Tsurf ) qa )

ra

(8.3.17)

In the more general soil case, soil moisture limits qsurf (i.e. qsurf

< qs(Tsurf)), and E < Ep (i.e. actual evaporation is less than

the potential evaporation). In such cases, the soil moisture

impact is often modeled as:

q surf = ( )q s (Tsurf )

(8.3.18)

or via:

E = ( )E p

(8.3.19)

linearly increases between the wilting point and field capacity

and is otherwise 0 or 1 below the wilting point or above the

field capacity respectively.

Connecting these models back to the necessary

requirements for evaporation stated in Section 2:

i) Water availability: This comes into the above equations

implicitly through qsurf or explicitly via the soil moisture.

ii) Energy input: The net radiation implicitly drives the

evolution of surface temperature, which itself appears

implicitly or explicitly in the evaporation equations above.

iii) Transport of vapor away from surface: The aerodynamic

resistance is the term that expresses the regulation of

transport of vapor (or energy) away from the surface via

turbulent motions.

E XAMPLE 8.3.1

increasing function of soil moisture that varies between 0 and

1, e.g.:

collected at noon from a bare soil field site are:

#

1,

fc

%

%%

wp

, wp fc

=$

% fc

wp

%

0,

wp

%&

Air relative humidity =69%

Surface air pressure = 973 mb

Windspeed = 5.8 m/s

Soil surface temperature = 26.9C

(8.3.20)

259

rain) and has roughness elements with an average

height of 2 cm. Compute the instantaneous latent

heat flux. For simplicity assume neutral

conditions in your calculation. Comment on the

qualitative dierence you would expect if nonneutral conditions were included. What is the

equivalent evaporation rate in mm/day?

resistance (for neutral conditions) are given by:

knowledge that the surface is saturated, we can safely

assume that:

q surf = q s (Tsurf ) =

es (Tsurf )

p

saturated soil surface vapor pressure can be computed

which yields es(Tsurf)=36.2 mb, which then gives:

q surf = 0.622

36.2 mb

= 23.1 10 3 kg/kg

973 mb

E=

(q surf qa )

ra

es (Ta )

p

36.9 mb

= (0.69)(0.622)

= 16.3 g/kg

973 mb

qa = RH q s (Ta ) = RH

raN

* ln $

') # 0.1(0.02 m) &,

=

= 51 s/m

(0.4)2(5.8 m/s)

p

RdT[1 + 0.608qa ]

97300 Pa

(287J/kg/K)(300.35K)[1 + 0.608(16.3 10 3 )]

= 1.12 kg/m 3

so that the evaporation rate is:

E = (1.12 kg/m )

(51 s/m)

3

= 1.49 10 4 kg/m 2 /s

The latent heat flux is determined by multiplying the

above mass flux by the latent heat of vaporization:

260

= 373 Wm 2

To get the equivalent flux density in mm/day simply

requires a unit conversion, i.e.:

E[mm/day] = (1.49 10

1 m3

kg/m /s)

1000 kg

2

1000 mm 86400 s

= 12.9 mm/day

1m

1 day

fact the conditions are near-neutral since the referencelevel temperature is almost the same as the surface

temperature. In this case, the air temperature is slightly

warmer than the surface. This corresponds to stable

conditions which generally suppresses turbulent flow.

Mathematically, this would correspond to a higher

aerodynamic resistance and hence a lower latent heat

(evaporation) flux.

261

S ECTION 4

Transpiration

The models presented in the previous section are relevant

for open water surfaces or bare soil surfaces. However in many

applications, vegetation is present and is expected to play a

key role in ET. Transpiration by plants occurs via the

vascular system of the plant structure (Figure 8.4). It is

helpful to first start with the motivation underlying the

plants role in water loss from the surface. In this context,

photosynthesis is the key driver. Plants use photosynthesis to

build plant structures (leaves, stems, roots, etc.) in order to

grow. The photosynthetic reaction can be written as:

H 2O+CO2 CH 2O+O2

(8.4.1)

this reaction are photons from the sun (photosynthetically

active radiation [PAR], which is essentially energy in the

visible part of the solar spectrum). The carbohydrate on the

right-hand-side (CH2O) is the compound that is used to

build/grow plant structure. So the key ingredients to make

this happen are water (H2O), carbon dioxide (CO2) and solar

energy (PAR). A by-product of the process is oxygen (O2).

The water source is soil moisture taken from the

rootzone and the carbon dioxide source is from the

atmosphere. The site of photosynthesis is inside the leaf,

where carbon dioxide can diuse into the leaf and solar

F IGURE 8.4 Schematic of key structures of a plant as relevant to transpiration flux (by Laurel Jules from

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Transpiration_Overview.svg).

absorption of soil water by plant roots and transport via the

roots, stem, branches, etc. (Figure 8.4). Diusion of carbon

dioxide into the stomatal cavities inside the leaves occurs via

small openings called stoma (Figures 8.5 and 8.6). These

stomatal openings are ringed with so-called guard cells,

which can open and shut to regulate the flow of carbon

262

dioxide into the leaves or the flow of water vapor out of the

leaves. The reason for this regulation has to do with the fact

that photosynthesis requires all of the ingredients listed above.

When the ingredients are unavailable (i.e. nighttime when

PAR = 0, or when water is limited due to soil moisture

shortage, etc.), there is little benefit to having the stoma open

and needlessly lose the water (which will diuse out into the

air). So in this context the transpiration is essentially a water

loss term that happens at the leaves of the plant.

sols.unlv.edu/Sculte/Anatomy/Leaves/PopulusStomata.jpg).

photosynthesis (from earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/LAI/

LAI2.php).

through the system, ultimately applying a negative pressure

to the water in the soil. This negative pressure can act against

gravity as described in Chapter 7. Recall that the drier the

soil, the higher the suction pressure in the soil. Hence, when

soil moisture is low, the plant must exert more pressure to

mobilize the water. When overly high suction pressures

develop, the plant structure may fail (causing wilting) which

corresponds directly to the wilting point soil moisture defined

in Equation (7.3.15).

263

The evaporative loss occurs because the air inside the

stomatal cavity is essentially saturated (i.e. q = qs), while that

outside the leaf is generally sub-saturated (i.e. q < qs). This

gradient in vapor will drive a diusive flux as described in the

previous section. The guard cells attempt to regulate the

carbon dioxide influx in a way that minimizes environmental

stresses on the plant (chiefly water loss). This ability to

regulate transpiration will add an additional resistance to

the flux equations developed in the previous section. This can

be modeled in terms of an extra stomatal or vegetation

canopy resistance (Figure 8.7). The details of this

physiological behavior are complicated, but the way it is

handled in the modeling of ET is generally simplified. The

resistance for the entire vegetation canopy (i.e. all of the

leaves combined) is often scaled from the single-leaf scale

using the so-called leaf area index (LAI), which is defined as

the leaf area per unit area of ground surface. So dense

vegetation with a large leaf area to ground surface area may

have values of LAI of approximately 6.0 or greater. This

parameter has both a strong spatial and seasonal variation

(Movie 8.1).

r

rc = s

LAI

F IGURE 8.7 Conceptualization of controls on evapotranspiration process using a resistance analogy approach (from

(8.4.2)

the resistance to evaporation due to turbulent transport, rc is

the resistance to transpiration due to stomatal control. Since

media.wiley.com/mrw_images/els/articles/a0003206/image_n/

nfgz002.gif).

thought of as just the sum of the two resistances. Hence the

mass-transfer (diusion analogy) model developed in Section 3

can be easily augmented to account for this eect:

264

for evaporation from the leaves, and the contribution from the

leaf surface is often called interception loss. The amount of

precipitation that directly reaches the surface (i.e. is not

intercepted) is called throughfall. Additional water can fall to

the surface via drainage if the interception storage fills up in

conjunction with continuing precipitation.

seasonal and interannual variability (from

earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/LAI/LAI3a.php).

E=

(q surf qa )

ra + rc

(8.4.3)

As mentioned above, the stomatal openings open/close

depending on environmental stresses being experienced by

the plant. So far these eects have not been included

explicitly in the model. The four stresses that are usually

accounted for are the incoming shortwave radiation (PAR), air

humidity, air temperature, and rootzone soil moisture. These

eects are usually modeled in the stomatal resistance

mentioned above as:

rsmin

rs =

(8.4.4)

fR fT fe f

s

surface. Note that the sensible heat flux is not regulated by

the stomata since it is still driven by temperature gradients,

hence the model for H is that given in Equation (8.3.16). This

particular form of model is often referred to as a one-source

model, assuming a homogeneous vegetation covered surface.

More complicated models can use a two-source model, where

evaporation comes from both vegetation and soil.

It should also be noted that the vegetation itself can

intercept water or snow as discussed in Chapter 6. In the case

where liquid water is on the leaves, the evaporation takes

rz

resistance and the terms in the denominator are stress

factors that vary between 0 and 1 and depend on incoming

shortwave radiation, air temperature, vapor pressure deficit,

and rootzone soil moisture respectively. These functions are

constructed in a way that in the limit approaching fi = 0

(where i corresponds to the dierent variable subscripts in

Equation (8.4.4)) corresponds to fully stressed conditions and

the limit approaching fi = 1 corresponds to fully unstressed

conditions. For example, when rootzone soil moisture becomes

265

fR (R ) =

s

1.105Rs

1.007Rs + 104.4

0 R 1100 W m

-2

(8.4.5)

fe (e) = 1 0.000238e,

0 e 4200 Pa

(8.4.6)

Ta (40 Ta )1.18

fT (Ta ) =

,

a

690

0 Ta 40 C

(8.4.7)

#

1,

%

%%

wp

,

f (rz ) = $

rz

% fc

wp

%

0,

%&

fc

wp fc

(8.4.8)

wp

F IGURE 8.8 Illustrative example of environmental stress factors used in canopy resistance model.

low, the stress factor for soil moisture will approach zero,

which will increase the stomatal resistance, and ultimately

make the transpiration equal to zero. The specific forms of

these functions are generally empirically-based. One example

of such equations is the set given by (Dingman, 2008):

For the incoming shortwave function, the stress function

goes to zero (i.e. stoma close) when the radiation is zero (at

night) and it goes to 1.0 when the stoma are fully open during

a sunny day with a significant amount of PAR. The air

temperature stress function is generally a function with a

peak or plateau region, which represents the optimal

temperature conditions for the plant. If the temperature gets

too cold or too hot the stoma will close completely. The vapor

pressure deficit (VPD) function is 1.0 when the VPD is zero

and decays as the VPD increases. This is because evaporation

losses will generally be high when the VPD is high and low

when the VPD is low. For soil moisture, when the rootzone

266

8.8) the stoma will have to shut completely. When the

rootzone moisture is above the field capacity (i.e. 0.4 in Figure

8.8) then water is plentiful and the stoma can be open. Given

that all of these variables are functions of time, the stress

functions themselves are functions of time as is the stomatal/

canopy resistance.

In summary, the presence of vegetation primarily changes

evapotranspiration by adding an additional regulation on the

flux of vapor at the surface. Vegetation plays an active role in

the water vapor loss (transpiration) via the regulation of

stomatal openings in the leaves. When under perfectly

unstressed conditions, the stomatal resistance is equal to the

minimum stomatal resistance, which is then scaled by the LAI

so that the additional regulation is entirely determined by

plant-dependent parameters. In the more general cases,

environmental conditions (both meteorological and soil

moisture) can generally increase the canopy resistance as the

environmental conditions are sub-optimal for vegetation

photosynthetic functioning. In the extreme case where

environmental conditions are severely sub-optimal (e.g.

rootzone soil moisture becomes very dry approaching the

wilting point of the plant), transpiration can be shut-o

completely via the complete closing of the stoma.

E XAMPLE 8.4.1

A vegetated surface is adjacent to the bare soil

surface described in Example 8.3.1. The

vegetation consists of a grass surface with a

characteristic height of 5 cm, a leaf area index of

2.5 and a minimum stomatal resistance of 70 s/

m. The incident shortwave radiation at the

surface is measured to be 900 W m-2. Assume the

meteorological conditions and surface conditions

for the vegetated surface are the same as that in

Example 8.3.1. Compute the evaporation rate

from the vegetated surface.

The primary dierence for a vegetated surface is the

additional resistance due to stomatal control on vapor

loss. This requires computation of each of the

environmental stress factors in the stomatal resistance

function. Based on the saturated soil and meteorological

conditions and using functions illustrated in Figure 8.8

(Equations (8.4.5)-(8.4.8)), the stress factors can be

estimated as:

1.105(900 W m 2 )

fR (R ) =

= 0.98

2

s

1.007(900 W m ) + 104.4

fT (Ta ) =

= 0.80

a

690

f (rz ) = 1

rz

267

= 11.44 mb

fe (e) = 1 0.000238(1144 Pa) = 0.73

= 219 W m 2

which is less than the bare soil evaporation.

rc =

rsmin

(70 s/m)

=

LAI(fR fT fe f ) (2.5)(0.98 0.80 0.73 1)

s

rz

= 49 s/m

The aerodynamic resistance also changes due to the

increased roughness of the vegetated surface, i.e.:

2

raN

* ln $

'0.1(0.05

m)

&,

) #

=

= 38 s/m

2

(0.4) (5.8 m/s)

increased roughness. The evaporation rate is then given

by:

E = (1.12 kg/m )

(38 + 49 s/m)

3

= 0.88 10 4 kg/m 2 /s

268

S ECTION 5

Additional ET Models

c p (T2 T1 )

B=

Lv (q 2 q1 )

The mass-transfer models described in the last two

sections provide instantaneous (i.e. over 10-30 min.) models

for LE and H (over bare soil/open water or vegetated surface

respectively), but require measurements/estimates of Tsurf,

qsurf, Ta, qa, and V (as well as characterization of other surface

properties). Other methods/models have been developed for

cases where dierent measurements may be available.

The first approach discussed in this section is the socalled Energy Balance Bowen Ratio (EBBR) method. The

Bowen ratio is defined as the ratio of the sensible heat to the

latent heat flux: B = H/LE. Note that the Bowen ratio is a

parameter indicative of the state of the surface and its role in

the partitioning of energy. When the surface is very dry, most

of the available energy will go into sensible heat (high Bowen

ratio). When the surface is wet, most of the available energy

will go into latent heat flux (low Bowen ratio). From the

original diusion analogy models in Equations (8.3.2) and

(8.3.3), this can be written as:

c p T / z

B=

Lv q / z

(8.5.1)

(8.5.2)

humidity are available at two dierent levels (i.e. on a tower),

then one can estimate the Bowen ratio at a given time. The

method then invokes the surface energy balance equation,

which can be written in terms of the Bowen ratio:

Rn G = LE + H = LE(1 + B)

(8.5.3)

LE =

Rn G

1+B

(8.5.4)

available energy (Rn - G), one can estimate the actual

evapotranspiration. Note this does not explicitly depend on

soil moisture measurement, wind speed, or other surface

properties aside from those needed to estimate Rn - G. Also,

no separate treatment is required for bare soil or vegetated

surfaces. Additionally, once latent heat flux is estimated, the

sensible heat flux can be estimated from the definition of the

Bowen ratio:

H = B LE

(8.5.5)

atmosphere (i.e. could be over soil, open water or vegetation).

269

E XAMPLE 8.5.1

A meteorological tower takes temperature and

humidity measurements at two levels (where level

1 is at 5 m and level 2 is 10 m above the surface)

and available energy measurements:

Air temperature (level 1) =27.2C

Air temperature (level 2) =24.2C

Air specific humidity (level 1) =12 g/kg

Air specific humidity (level 2) =11 g/kg

Available energy (Rn - G) = 500 W m-2

Estimate the latent and sensible heat fluxes from

the surface.

From the two-level measurements, the Bowen ratio can

be estimated as:

B=

= 1.2

2.5 10 6 J/kg (12 11) 10 3

heat fluxes are:

LE =

500 Wm

= 227 Wm 2

1 + (1.2)

2

The second model described here is the so-called Penman

model. Penman (1948) combined the mass-transfer models

with surface energy balance to derive a model for potential

evaporation. The primary development of the model is as

follows:

1. Assume that the surface humidity in the mass-transfer

model for evaporation is equal to the saturated specific

humidity (this implies potential evaporation):

q surf = q s (Tsurf )

(8.5.6)

temperature via a Taylor series expansion:

2

dq s

1 d qs

2

q s (Tsurf ) = q s (Ta ) +

(Tsurf Ta ) +

(T

T

)

+ ...

surf

a

dT T

2 dT 2

T

a

Keeping only the linear terms (i.e. the first two terms on the

right-hand-side) yields:

q s (Tsurf ) q s (Ta ) +

dq s

(T Ta )

dT T surf

(8.5.7)

where by definition:

dq s des Lv es

=

=

dT p dT p Rv T 2

(8.5.8)

H = (1.2)(227 Wm 2 ) = 272 Wm 2

both of which are away from the surface.

evaluated (or tabulated) as a function of air temperature. It is

270

dq s des

=

=

dT p dT p

(8.5.9)

(Tsurf Ta ) =

Hra

c p

(8.5.10)

into Equation (8.5.10).

5. Substitute the expression for (Tsurf - Ta) into the linearized

Equation (8.5.7), which can then be substituted into the

mass-transfer equation for E (Equation (8.3.14)).

6. Finally, solving for LE yields the Penman equation for

potential evaporation (i.e. from bare soils or open water

surfaces):

(Rn G) + v q

ra

LE p =

1+

psychrometric constant =

q = qs (Ta ) qa

(8.5.11)

pc p

Lv

The Penman model provides potential evaporation rates

given estimates of available energy, reference-level air

also shows two key drivers of potential evaporation, the first

term in the numerator is energy driven, while the second term

is associated with atmospheric demand depending on how

humid the air is. As mentioned in Section 3, the actual

evaporation is often then modeled as:

LE = ( )LE p

(8.5.12)

E XAMPLE 8.5.2

A reservoir has a nearby meteorological station

that takes the following measurements:

Air temperature =29.2C

Air relative humidity =76%

Surface air pressure = 980 mb

Windspeed (at 2 m height) = 10.3 m/s

Available energy (Rn - G) = 383.2 W m-2

Estimate the evaporation rate (in mm/day).

Assume the characteristic wave height on the

reservoir surface is 3 cm.

Note that in this case there is no data characterizing the

surface temperature. (If the surface temperature was

known, we could reasonably assume that the surface

specific humidity was equal to the saturated specific

humidity at that temperature.) Hence the mass-transfer

271

involves evaporation from an open-water surface we

know that the evaporation rate should equal the

potential evaporation rate. Given the measurements of

available energy, the Penman model is applicable to this

problem:

given by:

(Rn G) + v q

ra

LE p =

1+

can be computed from the ideal gas law for these

conditions, which yields a density of 1.11 kg/m3. The

aerodynamic resistance (under neutral conditions) is

equal to (from Equation (8.3.9)): ra = 25.6 s/m. The

specific humidity deficit is a function of air temperature

and relative humidity as given by:

# 2.5106 J/kg #

&&

1

1

es (Ta ) = (6.11 mb) exp %

%

((

$ 461 J/kg/K $ 273.16 K 302.35 K ''

= 41.57 mb

ea = (0.76) ( 41.57 mb) = 31.59 mb

q =

(0.622)

e =

(4157 3159 Pa) = 6.3103 kg/kg

p

(98000 Pa)

=

=

Rv T 2

(461 J/kg/K) (302.35 K)2

= 246.6 Pa/K

(98000 Pa)(1004 J/kg/K)

=

= 63.3 Pa/K

(0.622)(2.5 10 6 J/kg)

246.6 Pa/K

=

= 3.9

63.3 Pa/K

Putting all terms together yields the latent heat flux:

(3.9)(383.2 W/m 2 )

LE p =

+

1 + 3.9

(1.11 kg/m 3 )(2.5 10 6 J/kg)

(6.3 10 3 )

(25.6 s/m)

1 + 3.9

= 444 W/m 2

The equivalent evaporation rate is then given by:

444 W/m 2

1 m3

E[mm/day] =

1000 mm 86400 s

= 15.3 mm/day

1m

1 day

272

Other models have followed directly from Penman. For

example over a large moist surface with minimal advection the

air will become saturated under continued evaporation, i.e.:

q 0

Under these conditions one can define the equilibrium

evaporation, i.e. that driven solely by energy considerations:

(R G)

n

LEe =

1+

approach, one can show:

(Rn G) + v q

ra

LE =

r

1+ + c

ra

(8.5.15)

the multiplicative coecient has a value of 1.26. Given this,

the Priestly-Taylor model is often used to estimate potential

evaporation (and does not require humidity or wind speed

measurements).

except for the additional (last) term in the denominator which

includes the canopy resistance. In fact, in the limit that the

canopy resistance goes to zero, this equation reduces to the

Penman model as expected. Despite these similarities, some

care needs to be taken in terms of the meaning of the ET

predicted by the Penman-Monteith equation. Note that in its

general form the canopy resistance has a soil moisture stress

factor embedded in it (Equations (8.4.2) and (8.4.4)). Hence if

one wishes to use Penman-Monteith to model potential

evapotranspiration, then one needs to set the soil moisture

stress factor to 1.0 (which is equivalent to soil moisture not

being a limiting factor). The soil moisture impact on actual

evaporation could then be considered via Equation (8.5.12).

Alternatively, if one keeps the soil moisture stress function in

the canopy resistance, then the equation will not predict

potential evapotranspiration, but more closely actual

evapotranspiration.

Finally, it must be noted that the Penman model does

not consider vegetation cover. To account for the impact of

vegetation, the Penman-Monteith model is an extension which

follows the same recipe as above, but considers the canopy

The set of models described in this and the previous

sections, take various approaches to predict ET based on

various inputs. The model chosen depends on the surface type

as well as the measurements that are available. The specific

(8.5.13)

potential and equilibrium evaporation, i.e.:

(Rn G)

LE p = LEe =

1+

(8.5.14)

273

practical factors like cost of equipment and operation and

maintenance costs, proximity to existing infrastructure, etc.

E XAMPLE 8.5.3

A vegetated region adjacent to the reservoir in

Example 8.5.2 has the same meteorological data.

Based on its roughness and vegetation

characteristics, the corresponding aerodynamic

and canopy resistances are ra = 20 s/m and rc =

50 s/m. What is the expected latent heat flux

and evaporation rate (in mm/day)?

Based on the data, and since the surface is vegetated,

the Penman-Monteith model can be used:

(3.9)(383.2 W/m 2 )

LE =

+

50 s/m

1 + 3.9 +

20 s/m

(1.11 kg/m 3 )(2.5 10 6 J/kg)

(6.3 10 3 )

(20 s/m)

50 s/m

1 + 3.9 +

20 s/m

= 326 W/m 2

which is a lesser value than the potential rate from the

open-water surface in Example 8.5.2 due to the

additional stomatal control, despite having a lower ra.

274

S ECTION 6

MOD-WET Codes

richardson_number.m

Relevant functions based on concepts introduced in

this chapter include:

Aerodynamic resistance to turbulent transport:

aero_resistance.m

psychrometric_constant.m

soil_SEB_solver_prognostic.m

Stability correction factors:

stab_corr_factors.m

canopy_resistance.m

Slope of Clausius-Clapeyron equation:

clausius_clapeyron_slope.m

Energy Balance Bowen Ratio Method for ET estimation:

EBBR.m

Mass transfer model for evapotranspiration (and sensible

heat):

mass_transfer.m

Penman model:

penman.m

Penman-Monteith model:

penman_monteith.m

Psychrometric constant calculation:

275

S ECTION 7

Conceptual Questions

1. Describe the physical meaning of potential evaporation.

How does it generally compare to actual evaporation?

2. Is pan evaporation a measure of actual evaporation or

potential evaporation?

3. For a watershed mass balance, write the long-term average

evaporation as a function of other long-term average mass

fluxes.

4. Using an energy balance, write the long-term average

evaporation as a function of other long-term average energy

fluxes.

5. How do you convert between latent heat flux (in units of W

m-2) and evaporation mass flux (in units of kg m-2 s-1)? How

do you convert between an evaporation mass flux to units

of depth per unit time (i.e. mm/day)?

6. In the mass-transfer model for evaporation from bare soil,

what time-varying gradient is evaporation proportional to

(i.e. the driver of the flux). What gradient is sensible heat

flux proportional to?

7. What type of function describes the form of the mean

horizontal wind profile (i.e. as a function of z) in the neutral

surface layer?

atmosphere is chiefly responsible for the transport of vapor

(or heat) away from the surface?

9. Describe what the aerodynamic resistance physically

represents.

10. How does the aerodynamic resistance change if wind

velocity at a reference-level increases? Explain why this is

and what impact it has on evaporation and sensible heat

fluxes.

11. What is a neutral surface layer, i.e. what does neutral

refer to?

12. Describe the basic physical mechanism whereby vegetation

exerts an additional control/regulation on

evapotranspiration.

13. What does canopy resistance refer to?

14. Describe what leaf area index is.

15. Describe the meaning of the environmental stress factors

used in models for canopy resistance.

16. If environmental conditions are such that there is no stress

on the plant, what will the canopy resistance reduce to?

17. Does high soil moisture stress refer to high or low soil

moisture? Explain.

276

18. Identify whether the EBBR, Penman, and PenmanMonteith models give actual or potential

evapotranspiration. Explain.

277

S ECTION 8

Sample Problems

Problem 8.1. Meteorological and surface measurements

collected at noon from a bare soil field site are:

Air temperature = 26.8C

Air relative humidity = 69%

Surface air pressure = 973 mb

Wind speed at 2 m height = 3.0 m s-1

Soil surface temperature = 26.2 C

The measurements are taken on the first sunny day after a

rainy period (you can assume the soil is saturated). The soil

roughness elements have a characteristic height (h) of 4 cm.

a) Using only the measurements/information provided, which

model could be used to estimate the instantaneous surface

evaporation? Which model/s cannot be used if you only have

the data provided? Explain why.

b) What additional information/input data would you need if

the soil were not saturated?

c) What additional information would you need if the surface

was vegetated?

d) In general, qsurf over bare soil can be modeled as:

q surf = q s (Tsurf );

multiplicative coecient is equal to 1.0 and 2) a water-limited

case where the multiplicative factor is equal to 0.80. Use an

appropriate model to compute the latent and sensible heat

flux at the measurement time for each of these cases. How do

the values of the fluxes between the water limited case and

the moist soil case compare?

e) What is the equivalent evaporation rate in mm/day for the

saturated soil case? Is this actual or potential evaporation?

Problem 8.2. A meteorological station/tower is set up at a

field site to take the following measurements: net radiation

(Rn) at the surface, ground surface heat flux (G), and air

temperature and specific humidity at two dierent heights

within the atmospheric surface layer (T1 and T2 and q1 and

q2). Data at 1:00 PM for a particular day are given by:

Rn = 360 W m-2

G = 41. W m-2

T1 =27.C

q1 = 11. g/kg

T2 = 24.C

q2 = 8.6 g/kg

a) Use an appropriate model to compute the latent and

sensible heat flux at the measurement time.

b) What is the equivalent evaporation rate in mm/day? Is

this actual or potential evaporation? Explain.

0 ( ) 1

278

Problem 8.3.

a) Describe the meaning of potential evaporation. What

conditions are necessary for potential evaporation from a

surface? How does potential evaporation dier from actual

evaporation?

b) Evaporation from a reservoir can be obtained using the

Penman equation. If the available energy at the surface of the

reservoir is 220 W m-2, aerodynamic resistance is 30 s m-1, and

air specific humidity is 8 g/kg, what is the change in

evaporation (in mm/day) from the surface if the air

temperature is reduced from 20C to 15C as a cold air mass

passes over the reservoir? You may neglect any changes in net

radiation at the surface as a result of the dierent air

characteristics.

c) Qualitatively, explain how an increase in the surface

temperature would aect the evaporation rate from the

reservoir.

d) Qualitatively, explain how a lower humidity would impact

the evaporation rate from the reservoir.

Problem 8.4. Suppose the following measurements are made

over a bare soil surface (with a characteristic height of 2 cm

for surface roughness elements):

Reference-level (i.e. 2 meter height) wind-speed: 3 m/s

Reference-level air temperature: 25.9C

Reference-level air vapor pressure: 2217 Pa

Surface soil temperature: 37.9 C

Surface pressure: 1000 mb

Estimate the surface latent and sensible heat fluxes under

these conditions. What is the corresponding evaporation rate

at this time (expressed in units of mm/day)?

Problem 8.5. A farmer is deciding between two crops to

plant for the upcoming growing season. For the two crops

being considered, the dierence in profit for the farmer is

exclusively related to the water needed to grow the plants.

Therefore, the farmer needs to know how much

evapotranspiration will occur from each crop on a typical day.

The characteristics corresponding to each crop type is listed

below:

CROP

STOMATAL

RESISTANCE (S/M)

VEGETATION

HEIGHT (CM)

30

30

60

100

are: Ta =20C, V = 1 m s-1, RH = 65%, and ps = 1000 mb.

The net radiation at the surface is 50 W m-2 and the ground

heat flux is 2 W m-2. Use the Penman equation to answer the

following:

a) What would the evaporation from each crop (in mm day-1)

be under these conditions?

279

c) Which crop should the farmer plant?

280

Chapter 9

Groundwater

Flow

S ECTION 1

Learning Objectives

By the time you finish this chapter you should be able to:

1. Write down Darcys Law for specific discharge in

saturated flow; show how it is a special case of the

expression used in unsaturated flow

2. Compute the average fluid velocity through an aquifer

based on the Darcy flux and soil porosity

3. List the key dierences between unconfined and confined

aquifers

4. Describe the dierent mechanisms by which water is

stored in unconfined and confined aquifers

5. Define the respective storage parameter relevant to

unconfined and confined aquifers

6. Write down the general 3D groundwater flow equation for

confined aquifers

7. State the key dependent variable that is being solved for

in any groundwater flow problem (i.e. once this variable is

known anything else can be solved for)

simple steady-state one-dimensional boundary value

problems

10. Understand the dierence and meaning of a fixed-head

and no-flow boundary condition

11. Use the principle of superposition to decompose and

solve more complicated groundwater flow problems

12. Write down the 2D flow equation in cylindrical

coordinates for flow to a single pumping well

13. Understand the dierence between a monitoring well and

a pumping well

14. Solve the steady-state flow equation toward a single

pumping well for unconfined and confined aquifers

15. Use the single-well solutions to solve for aquifer

properties (conductivity/transmissivity) given measured

head values

16. Solve the transient flow equation toward a single

pumping well using the Theis equation

17. Use superposition to solve for head/drawdown in

problems with multiple wells, impermeable or fixed-head

lateral boundaries

(using the Dupuit approximation) for unconfined and

confined aquifers

282

S ECTION 2

The term groundwater is generally used to refer to the

study of subsurface flow in saturated soil media. Such

groundwater reservoirs constitute approximately 30% of the

total global freshwater and approximately 99% of the total

global liquid freshwater, and hence form one of the key water

resources for water supply. We will start this chapter with

some of the basic definitions used in groundwater. It should

be noted that many are shared with unsaturated flow

problems (also flow in porous media) with the dierence being

that all the pores are filled with water. A more comprehensive

treatment of groundwater processes is given in Bear (2007).

An aquifer is a geologic unit (often of unconsolidated

soil) that is capable of storing and transmitting significant

amounts of water. A schematic of the subsurface is shown in

Figure 9.1. Aquifers are generally characterized into one of

two types: unconfined aquifers and confined aquifers.

In unconfined aquifers (generally near the surface just

below the unsaturated zone) the pores saturate via water

pooling up over time on top of an impervious or low

conductivity layer. These low conductivity layers that prevent

downward flow are generally referred to as aquicludes or

aquitards. The upper boundary for an unconfined aquifer is

F IGURE 9.1 Illustration of various layers in subsurface including vadose zone, an unconfined and confined aquifer and an

aquiclude.

therefore has a (gauge) pressure equal to zero (i.e.

atmospheric) at the water table. The main source of water for

unconfined aquifers is direct recharge from the overlying

unsaturated zone. Because the water table is a free surface,

changes in storage in unconfined aquifers correspond directly

to an increase or decrease in the water table elevation. In this

way, unconfined aquifers are analogous to streams where

unsteady flow involves changes in stream elevation. The

piezometric (or potentiometric) surface, i.e.:

283

h=

p

+z

g

(9.2.1)

z is defined relative to a datum.

In confined aquifers, the saturated soil is bounded above

and below by low conductivity layers. Often these layers may

be clay soil layers above and impervious bedrock below. As a

result, the physical boundaries of the confined aquifer are

essentially fixed, making the flow more analogous to pipe flow.

The source of water in confined aquifers is recharge from

upstream locations or in some cases via leaky aquitards

(Figure 9.2). As a result of the configuration (i.e. fixed

boundaries above/below), water in confined aquifers is often

under high pressure. By definition the piezometric surface is

generally above the top of the aquifer. In some cases, the

piezometric surface is actually above the ground surface

(Figure 9.2), in which case if a well were drilled into the

confined aquifer, water would flow up to the surface without

the need of a pump (artesian well).

Flow in aquifers is simply flow through porous media and

therefore Darcys Law still applies for the specific discharge/

Darcy flux vector:

q = Kh

(9.2.2)

content since the soil is saturated (i.e. K=Ks). The gradient

operator is used in recognition of the fact that in general the

F IGURE 9.2 Typical aquifer configuration showing piezometric surface for unconfined and confined aquifers, which can be

measured via monitoring wells (from

artinaid.com/2013/04/types-of-aquifers) .

The components of the Darcy flux vector can be written as:

qx K x

h

,

x

qy = K y

h

,

y

q z = K z

h

z

(9.2.3)

in groundwater flow as it controls the advection of pollutants.

It represents the average velocity of water in the pores and

can be written as:

v=

Q

q

=

sA s

(9.2.4)

284

that only that fraction of the cross-sectional area of flow is

occupied by pore space. As was discussed previously, while

flow in the unsaturated zone is primarily 1D (z-direction),

groundwater flow is primarily 2D (in the x-y plane). In such

cases this implies that qz = 0 and hence the head is constant

with depth in the aquifer.

The storage characteristics of aquifers dier depending

on the type of aquifer. For an unconfined aquifer, the storage

change corresponds directly to a change in water table level.

The storage parameter used to characterize unconfined

aquifers is the specific yield or the storage coecient: Sy

which is defined as the volume of water released per unit

decline in water table (per unit area). Physically, the specific

yield is dimensionless and varies between zero and the

porosity of the soil, with typical values between 0.05 and 0.35.

The specific retention is the dierence between the porosity

and specific yield.

In confined aquifers the storage mechanism is dierent

since there is no water table that can move up or down.

Rather storage changes correspond mainly to compression of

the aquifer as the weight of the overlying material is

transferred from liquid to solid grains when water is removed

(or vice versa). In essence this amounts to storage changes as

a result of porosity changes. The storage parameter used to

describe this behavior is the so-called specific storage:

F IGURE 9.3 Map showing the large-scale groundwater aquifers across the U.S. (from USGS;

pubs.usgs.gov/ha/ha730/ch_a/gif/A004_us.gif).

110-5 and 110-3 m-1.

Together the storage and flow characteristics will be

combined to derive the groundwater flow equation. Some

examples of aquifer types and distribution in the U.S. are

shown in Figure 9.3. Of particular note is the Ogallala Aquifer

in the midwestern U.S. Much of the grain belt of the U.S.

draws its irrigation water via pumping from this one very

large aquifer.

285

E XAMPLE 9.2.1

piezometric head distribution (h(x,y); in meters)

as shown in the figure below. The aquifer is

homogeneous and has a saturated hydraulic

Problem #3: (6 points ~ 20 min.)

conductivity of 5.0 m/d and a porosity of 0.35.

The steady-state head field for a confined aquifer under a 5 km x 5 km square island (with a

is the

Darcy

flux and

poreis velocity

themap below.

homogeneousWhat

and isotropic

hydraulic

conductivity

of 1 m/day)

plotted in theat

contour

datum is such that the head on all sides of the boundary of the island is 0 m.

location: x = 3 km, y = 2 km?

The

30 m (since there is no 30 m contour). The head

generally decreases to zero at the aquifer boundaries.

The water will flow down the head gradient (i.e. from

high to low head). Based on the distribution of head, the

flow pattern will also vary in space. The Darcy flux is

given by:

q = Kh

where the gradient must be estimated from the head

distribution. The head gradient is mathematically in the

direction of steepest ascent, which graphically is

perpendicular to head contours. The negative sign in the

Darcy flux indicates that flow is in the down-gradient

direction. The down gradient direction at x = 3 km, y =

2 km is shown in the annotated figure below. The

gradient can be estimated using a finite dierence:

x =3km,y=2km

h

5m

= 0.01

L x =3km,y=2km 500 m

the Darcy flux is given by:

a) On the map,

sketch

the flowof

direction

water starting

from point

The

pattern

head of

shows

a general

peak(3km,

near3km)

theto the edge of the island. in

(2 pts.)

b) Where is the Darcy flux the maximum and what is its approximate value? Explain your reasoning for

choosing where the flux is largest. (4 pts.)

velocity is in the same direction with a magnitude:

286

The steady-state head field for a confined aquifer under a 5 km x 5 km square island (with a

homogeneous and isotropic hydraulicqconductivity

of 1 m/day) is plotted in the contour map below. The

0.01 m/d

v

=

=

= the

0.029

datum is such that the head on all sides of the boundary of

islandm/d

is 0 m.

0.35

+"

a) On the map, sketch the flow direction of water starting from point (3km, 3km) to the edge of the island.

Note that the Darcy flux and velocity will vary in space.

(2 pts.)

b) Where is the Darcy flux the maximum and what is its approximate value? Explain your reasoning for

contours

closest

(i.e. largest gradient), which occurs

choosing where

the flux isare

largest.

(4 pts.)

Problem #4:

(12head

pointsgradient

~ 30 min.)is about 3 times larger than above,

the

A farmer hasmaking

a row irrigation

system asflux

shown

in Figure

1 below.

The soil

is bounded on both sides by

the Darcy

and

velocity

3 times

larger.

drainage ditches which allow water to be removed from the soil through lateral groundwater flow. The

water in the drainage ditches is maintained at a depth H0. The irrigation rate I is applied at the top of the

soil profile. The water which is not evaporated via transpiration by the crops recharges (at a rate R) the

unconfined aquifer below (which is bounded by a horizontal impermeable layer at depth D). The crops

being grown by the farmer have a rooting depth of d and have an average evapotranspiration rate E. The

farmer must decide the irrigation rate such that the rootzone remains unsaturated (i.e. the water table

287

S ECTION 3

Ss

(9.3.3)

h

= (q)

t

The groundwater flow equation is analogous to the flow

equation for unsaturated flow, but under saturated conditions.

Here we will start with the general 3D flow equation using

mass balance and then simplify it to 1D and 2D versions as

special cases.

groundwater flow equation:

The statement of mass balance can be written as (same

starting point as in unsaturated flow):

M

= ( wq dx dy dz)

t

(9.3.1)

storage and the right-hand-side term is the convergence of flux

(both for a dierential volume of soil). From the definition of

specific storage, we can expand the storage term as:

M

h

= wSs dx dy dz

t

t

(9.3.2)

head change. Plugging this into Equation (9.3.1) and

assuming the density of water is constant yields:

Ss

Ss

q

q

q

h

= x y z

t

x

y

z

h

h

h

=

K

+

K

+

t x x x y y y z

(9.3.4)

h

K

z z

(9.3.5)

h(x,y,z,t), there also needs to be two boundary conditions

(BCs) per coordinate and one initial condition (IC) specified.

Once h is known, then everything about the flow field can be

computed. In other words, the key point is that in any

groundwater flow problem what we are really solving for is the

piezometric surface (h) first. Once known we can determine

everything about the flow itself. This is analogous to the

unsaturated flow problem, where when soil moisture is known

everything else can be determined. In that case the head is a

function of soil moisture, whereas in groundwater it is not.

Before proceeding to the development of the 2D flow

equation, some special cases that are often encountered are

worth mentioning. First, an aquifer is said to be homogeneous

if its conductivity field does not vary in space, i.e.:

288

K x K y K z

K i K i (x,y,z)

=

=

=0

x

y

z

Second, an aquifer is said to be isotropic if there is no

directionality to the conductivity field, i.e.:

K x = Ky = K z = K

Finally, if the flow is in steady-state, then there are no head

variations in time, i.e.:

h

=0

t

Given these special conditions, one can derive simplified forms

of the 3D flow equation. For example, for a homogeneous/

isotropic aquifer, we can write the governing equation as:

2 h 2 h 2 h

h

Ss

=K 2 + 2 + 2

t

y

z

x

(9.3.6)

2 h 2 h 2 h

2

2 + 2 + 2=h =0

y

z

x

(9.3.7)

only in groundwater problems but many other fields including

heat transfer.

In many natural groundwater systems, the flow is largely

horizontal (i.e. in the x- and y-directions) with little to no

vertical flow. As such, in many cases solving the 2D GW flow

equation is sucient. Here we develop the 2D flow equation

from the general 3D equation shown above. The usual

mechanism for doing so if via the so-called Dupuit

approximation, which essentially involves integrating the 3D

equation with respect to z, assuming no vertical flow inside

the aquifer (qz = 0) and that the aquifer has a horizontal lower

boundary. Together these mean that h=h(x, y, t). Note that

the lack of dependence on z implies that h is constant in any

vertical plane. This is consistent with the no vertical flow

assumption (i.e. if h varied with z then there would be a

gradient and therefore a Darcy flux). In such cases, as depth

increases into the aquifer, there are one-to-one tradeos

between the pressure and elevation head terms so that the

head is constant in the vertical. In other words, at the surface

the pressure is zero so the piezometric head is equal to the

elevation head. As one moves down vertically into the aquifer

the pressure increases such that the pressure head increases by

the exact amount that the elevation head decreases.

To develop the 2D GW flow equation we integrate

Equation (9.3.5) from z = 0 to z = H, where H = h (i.e. the

water table) in the case of an unconfined aquifer and H = b

(i.e. the aquifer thickness) in the case of an confined aquifer:

H

H

h

h

h

S

dz

=

K

+

K

0 s t

0 x x x y y y + z

h

K z z dz

289

and three on the right-hand-side). We will focus on integration

of them one-by-one. First, term #1:

H

Ss

0

h

h

dz =

S dz

t

t 0 s

h

[unconfined aquifers]

t

h

h

=Ss b

= S ; [confined aquifers]

t

t

= Sy

storativity. Term #2 is:

H

K

dz

=

0 x x x x

h

h

0 K x x dz = x K x x z

0 z

h

K

h

[unconfined aquifer]

x x x

h

h

K

b

=

T

[confined aquifer]

x x x x x x

transmissivity. Term #3 is similarly:

H

H

h

h

h

0 y Ky y dz = y 0 Ky y dz = y Ky y z

h

=

K

h

[unconfined aquifer]

y y y

h

h

K

b

=

T

[confined aquifer]

y y y y y y

h

h

K

z z dz = K z z

= Kz

h

h

Kz

=R0

z H

z 0

is assumed there is no leakage out of the bottom of the aquifer

(impervious boundary).

Putting all four terms back together yields the 2D flow

equation. For a confined aquifer this can be written as:

h

h h

=

T

+

T

+R

t x x x y y y

(9.3.8)

positive) only if the confined aquifer has a leaky upper

boundary. For an unconfined aquifer the 2D flow equation is

given by:

Sy

h

h

h

=

K

h

+

K

h

+R

t x x x y y y

(9.3.9)

involving h. As mentioned in the context of the unsaturated

flow equation, nonlinear PDEs are generally more dicult to

solve. To make the equation linear we can use the following

identities:

h 1 2

=

(h );

x 2 x

h 1 2

=

(h )

y 2 y

290

about a nominal head h0:

Sy

S 2

h

h

Sy

= y

(h )

t

h0 2h0 t

yields:

Sy h 2

1 h 2

1 h 2

=

K

+

K

+R

2h0 t

x x 2 x y y 2 y

d 2 R

0= 2 +

; subject to BCs

C2

dx

(9.3.12)

(9.3.10)

By expressing both equations in linear form, we can

write a unified governing linear 2D GW flow equation for a

homogeneous/isotropic aquifer:

2 2 R

C1

= 2+ 2+

t x

y C 2

variation in head in the y-direction. In such cases, the lefthand-side term will be zero (steady-state) and the second

term on the right-hand-side, which involves derivatives with

respect to y, will also be zero. Therefore the 1D (steady-state)

flow equation will look like:

(9.3.11)

= h 2 2 [unconfined]; = h [confined]

C 1 = Sy (Kh0 ) [unconfined]; = S T [confined]

C 2 = K [unconfined]; = T [confined]

In many applications, especially those types of problems that

can be solved analytically, we will be dealing with steady-state

and/or 1D problems. In the case of steady-1D problems, we

can use the above unified equation as a starting point. A 1D

flow problem involves flow only in one direction (i.e. the x-

the governing equation is no longer a PDE, but instead an

ODE. This equation can be integrated (twice) via separation

of variables, i.e.:

(x) =

R 2

x + a 0x + a 1

2C 2

(9.3.13)

via application of the two BCs. Common BCs are fixed head

boundaries (which generally correspond to a lake/river

boundary where the water level is in steady-state) or a no-flux

boundary (where there is an impervious boundary like a

bedrock outcrop). To reiterate: the solution to the above

equation will be the piezometric surface (in this case h(x)),

which can then be used to determine fluxes, pore velocities,

travel times, etc.

291

E XAMPLE 9.3.1

the cross-section figure below:

the water table remains below the rooting depth

throughout the entire length L). The soil has a

saturated hydraulic conductivity K. Assuming

steady-state conditions with no change in storage

in the unsaturated zone:

a) Write an expression relating the (steady-state)

irrigation, evapotranspiration, and recharge rates.

b) Determine the expression for the steady-state

water table profile beneath the crops as a

function of x (and in terms of R, K, H0, and L).

The soil is bounded on both sides by drainage

rite an expression relating the (steady-state) irrigation, evapotranspiration, and recharge rates. (2 pt.)

write the expression for the maximum irrigation

ditches which allow water to be removed from

etermine the expression for the steady-state water table profile beneath the crops as a function of x rate the farmer can apply to maintain

the

through lateral groundwater flow. The

in terms of R,

K, Hsoil

0, and L). (5 pts.)

unsaturated conditions in the rootzone.

inparts

thea)drainage

is maintained

atirrigation

a

sed on your water

answers to

and b), writeditches

the expression

for the maximum

rate the

er can apply depth

to maintain

conditions inrate

the rootzone.

(2 pt.) at the

H0unsaturated

. The irrigation

I is applied

a) The mass balance for the unsaturated zone control

-1

-1

ofLthe

soil

The

which

ssuming H0 =top

1.0 m,

= 6 m,

D =profile.

4 m, d = 1m,

K =water

3.0 cm day

, and is

E =not

8 mm day , what is this volume (i.e. below the land surface and above the

-1

ation rate in mm day ? (3 pts.)

evaporated via transpiration by the crops

water table) can be written as:

recharges (at a rate R) the unconfined aquifer

dS

blem #5: (15below

points (which

~ 45 min.)is bounded by a horizontal

= I E R

dt

re 2 (shown below)

is a cross-sectional

illustrating

the steady-state

positions and conditions

impermeable

layerdiagram

at depth

D). The

crops being

pond and river relative to a one-dimensional confined aquifer.

grown by the farmer have a rooting depth of d

In steady-state:

and have an average evapotranspiration rate E.

dS dt = I E R = 0

The farmer must decide the irrigation rate

292

b) The steady-state irrigated system yields a onedimensional unconfined aquifer which is governed by

(from Equation (9.3.11)):

there will be a peak in head at the mid-point of the

aquifer. This can be proven by taking the derivative of

the head profile and setting it to zero, and is true in this

case because the boundary conditions are the same at

each boundary. The maximum allowable irrigation is

such that the head is the requisite level shown in the

figure, i.e.:

d 2h 2

2R

=

K

dx 2

Integrating twice yields:

h 2(x) =

R 2

x + a 0x + a 1

K

can be determined by applying the boundary conditions

(BCs) at each end of the aquifer:

h 2(x = 0) =

R 2

(0) + a 0 (0) + a1 = H 02

K

a1 = H 02

R

(L)2 + a 0 (L) + H 02 = H 02

K

RL

a0 =

K

h 2(x = L) =

R " L % RL " L %

2

2

2

h (x = L 2) = $ ' +

$ ' + H 0 = (D d)

K #2&

K #2&

RL2

+ H 02 = (D d)2

4K

(I E)L2

+ H 02 = (D d)2

4K

where solving for the irrigation rate yields:

I =E+

4K

(D d)2 H 02

2

L

h 2(x) =

R 2 RL

x +

x + H 02

K

K

293

S ECTION 4

Groundwater Flow to

Pumping Wells

As mentioned above, groundwater is a primary source of

freshwater. To extract this supply from an aquifer generally

requires a pumping well (Figure 9.4) whereby the well taps

into the existing (natural) flow conditions. A pumping well

generally consists of a lined bore hole (i.e. with a pipe) that

has a screened end within the aquifer and a pump on the

other end of the pipe. Turning on the pump takes water out of

the aquifer and by mass balance induces flow toward the well

as will be described in more detail below. Note that a

monitoring well is quite dierent, as it does not have a pump

and is generally used solely for monitoring the piezometric

surface and/or constituents in the water (i.e. is passive rather

than an active part in the flow system). A pumping well may

be drilled into a near-surface unconfined aquifer or more

deeply into a confined aquifer. In this section we focus on the

hydraulics associated with flow toward pumping wells.

For mathematical tractability we will focus on a single

pumping well in an aquifer of infinite horizontal extent and for

conditions where the original piezometric surface (i.e. prior to

pumping) was horizontal. Extensions to multiple pumps and

more realistic cases can be built up from these single-well

solutions via superposition as discussed in the next section.

The basic schematic for such single well configurations is

F IGURE 9.4 Illustration of impact of pumping on the regional natural groundwater system.

and 9.6 respectively. The pumping rate is generally denoted

by Q and is given a positive value for extraction out of the

aquifer (or negative for pumping into the aquifer). The

original piezometric surface (h0) is shown with a dashed line.

Note for the confined aquifer it occurs above the top of the

aquifer due to the large pressure head term, while for the

unconfined aquifer it corresponds to the water table itself. The

spatial coordinate useful for well problems is the radius (r)

from the well. Additional parameters include the outer radius

of the well (rw) and the head within the well (hw). The water

294

around a single pumping well in a horizontally infinite confined aquifer (from Mays, 2005).

through the aquifer. As is well known by now, flow in the

aquifer is driven by head gradients. For flow to be toward the

well, the head must be sloping downward toward the well.

This radially symmetric pattern is usually referred to as the

cone of depression. The key variable that is most often solved

for in pumping problems is the so-called drawdown:

s(r,t) = h0 h(r,t)

(9.4.1)

often defined as the radius away from the well at which there

is no drawdown (i.e. at r = R, s = 0). An aquifer of infinite

horizontal extent is really just one that extends beyond the

around a single pumping well in a horizontally infinite unconfined aquifer (from Mays, 2005).

pumping rate, the drawdown will initially be changing with

time (transient) such that the drawdown is a function of time

(and radius). Ultimately, after enough pumping occurs, the

amount being withdrawn will be exactly balanced by the flow

from the aquifer (steady-state) in which case the drawdown

will only be a function of radius.

In developing the flow equation for a single pumping well

in an infinitely extending aquifer we focus on the 2D flow

equation for a homogeneous/isotropic aquifer (Equation

(9.3.1)). This equation can be expressed in cylindrical

coordinates (centered at the well) as:

295

1 R

C1

=

r

+

t r r r C 2

(9.4.2)

(R=0) in which case this becomes:

C1

1

=

r

t r r r

(9.4.3)

pumping well (without recharge). We will use this as a

starting point to develop solutions for cases with a constant

pumping rate.

We will start with the case of transient flow in a confined

aquifer, which corresponds to the expected behavior early on

after pumping begins. For the transient case (i.e. non-steadystate) the governing equation is:

S h 1 h

=

r

T t r r r

(9.4.4)

has a solution which is referred to as the Theis solution

(solved in terms of drawdown):

s(r,t) = h0 h(r,t) =

Q

W (u)

4T

(9.4.5)

e u

W (u) = du

u

u

(9.4.6)

Sr 2

u=

4Tt

(9.4.7)

FUNCTION OF THE NON-DIMENSIONAL PARAMETER u

u

0.219

0.049

0.013

3.8

10-3

1.1

10-3

3.6

10-1

1.2

10-4

3.8

10-5

1.2

10-5

10-1

1.82

1.22

0.91

0.7

0.56

0.45

0.37

0.31

0.26

10-2

4.04

3.35

2.96

2.68

2.47

2.3

2.15

2.03

1.92

10-3

6.33

5.64

5.23

4.95

4.73

4.54

4.39

4.26

4.14

10-4

8.63

7.94

7.53

7.25

7.02

6.84

6.69

6.55

6.44

10-5

10.94

10.24

9.84

9.55

9.33

9.14

8.99

8.86

8.74

10-6

13.24

12.55

12.14

11.85

11.63

11.45

11.29

11.16

11.04

10-7

15.54

14.85

14.44

14.15

13.93

13.75

13.6

13.46

13.34

10-8

17.84

17.15

16.74

16.46

16.23

16.05

15.9

15.76

15.65

10-9

20.15

19.45

19.05

18.76

18.54

18.35

18.2

18.07

17.95

10-10

22.45

21.76

21.35

21.06

20.84

20.66

20.5

20.37

20.25

10-11

24.75

24.06

23.65

23.36

23.14

22.96

22.81

22.67

22.55

10-12

27.05

26.36

25.96

25.67

25.44

25.26

25.11

24.97

24.86

10-13

29.36

28.66

28.26

27.97

27.75

27.56

27.41

27.28

27.16

10-14

31.66

30.97

30.56

30.27

30.05

29.87

29.71

29.58

29.46

10-15

33.96

33.27

32.86

32.58

32.35

32.17

32.02

31.88

31.76

296

for any radius and time and used as input to the well

function. The well function is typically evaluated via its

tabulated solution (Table 9.1) or numerically (i.e. the MATLAB

command expint is the well function integral). Alternatively,

the well function can be expanded via a Taylor series

expansion, i.e.:

1 u2

W (u) = 0.5772 ln u + u

+ ...

(9.4.8)

2 2!

where the small higher-order terms can be dropped depending

on the size of u. In addition to the Theis solution providing

drawdown information, it can also be used to estimate aquifer

properties using measured drawdown from monitoring wells.

Strictly speaking, an analytical solution for transient flow

toward a pump in an unconfined aquifer is not available. This

has to do with the nonlinearity of the governing PDE.

However based on the linearized version, an approximate

solution can be obtained by using (K h0) in place of the

transmissivity (T) in the above solution. This is equivalent to

assuming the aquifer is quite thick so that the amount of

drawdown is relatively small compared to the original

piezometric surface (h0).

Next we focus on the analytical solutions for steady-state

drawdown. For a confined aquifer the governing equation is

given by:

S h 1 h

=

r

=0

T t r r r

(9.4.9)

d dh

r

=0

dr dr

goes from a PDE (hard to solve) to an ODE that can be

solved easily via separation of variables. If the above equation

is integrated (twice) we get:

h(r) = c 0 ln(r) + c1

(9.4.10)

determined from BCs. If available, head measurements at two

locations could be used to identify the integration constants.

Instead, generally one is related to the pumping rate and the

second to a measurement. The flow toward the pumping well

can be equated to the pumping rate via:

dh

Q = 2 rb K

dr

(9.4.11)

because flow is in the negative r-direction. The first term on

the right-hand-side represents the cross-sectional area of flow,

which is a cylinder at a radius r of height b, and the last term

in parentheses is the Darcy flux (which by definition is the

flow per unit cross-sectional area). Substituting the first

derivative of the general solution (Equation (9.4.10)) yields:

297

c

Q

Q

Q = 2 rb K 0 c 0 =

=

2 Kb 2T

r

(9.4.12)

pumping rate and the transmissivity of the aquifer. Solving for

the second integration constant is generally done via the

specification of a measured head h1 at a known radius r1 (i.e.

from a monitoring well) where one can write:

h(r1 ) = h1 =

Q

Q

ln(r1 ) + c1 c1 = h1

ln(r1 )

2T

2T

(9.4.13)

conditions yields:

!r $

Q

h(r) =

ln # & + h

2T " r1 % 1

(9.4.14)

single pumping well in a confined (infinite) aquifer in steadystate conditions. For the special case where the specified

radius and head are the radius of influence (R) and the

corresponding (original) head (h0), yields:

h(r) =

r

Q

ln + h0 ;

2T R

rw r R

(9.4.15)

steady-state drawdown:

r

Q

s(r) = h0 h(r) =

ln ;

2T R

rw r R

(9.4.16)

the radius of the well extending out to the radius of influence.

Beyond determining drawdown fields, the above solutions can

be used to determine the aquifer transmissivity from two head

measurements at dierent locations (monitoring wells), i.e.:

T =

Q ln[r2 r 1 ]

2 h2 h1

(9.4.17)

aquifer (i.e. determine its properties) which can then be used

to generally estimate drawdown fields throughout the aquifer.

Finally, the last case to examine is the steady-state flow

in an unconfined aquifer with a single pumping well. The

governing equation is:

S h 2 1 1 h 2

=

r

=0

Kh0 t

r r 2 r

(9.4.18)

d 1 dh 2

r

=0

dr 2 dr

which can be integrated (twice) and using the same procedure

for identifying integration constants as shown above (for the

confined aquifer case) yields:

298

r

Q

h (r) =

ln + h12 ;

K r1

2

rw r R

(9.4.19)

piezometric head, there is not as clean of a solution for

drawdown as there is in the confined aquifer case, but it still

can be determined via:

s(r) = h0 h 2(r);

rw r R

(9.4.20)

be used to characterize the conductivity of the aquifer from

measurements at two monitoring wells:

K =

Q ln[r2 r1 ]

(h22 h12 )

(9.4.21)

So to summarize, we have defined the solutions to the

groundwater flow problem for three single-well infinite aquifer

cases: i) transient flow in a confined aquifer, ii) steady-state

flow in a confined aquifer, and iii) steady-state flow in an

unconfined aquifer. Additionally, while we do not have an

analytical solution for the fourth case of transient flow in an

unconfined aquifer, the Theis solution can be used if the

unconfined aquifer is relatively thick compared to the

drawdown. Finally, it should be noted that the above

development defined a positive pumping rate as one that

extracts flow from the aquifer. These cases yield a cone of

depression based on the given pumping rate. All of the above

well, which is simply one that is used to pump water into the

aquifer. Mathematically, this just involves using a negative

value for the pumping (recharge) rate. The result is a cone of

build-up rather than one of depression as the water being

pumped into the aquifer initiates a head gradient away from

the well that drives flow laterally outward into the aquifer.

E XAMPLE 9.4.1

A single well in a (horizontally infinite) confined

aquifer begins pumping at a rate of 10 m3/day.

The aquifer has a storativity of 0.0001 and a

transmissivity of 50 m2/day. What is the

drawdown at a radius of 25 meters from the well

after 10 days?

This problem involves transient flow in a confined aquifer

and can therefore use the Theis solution. The nondimensional input argument for the well function is given

by:

(0.0001)(25 m)2

u=

= 0.00003

4(50 m 2 /day)(10 day)

From Table 9.1 the Well function at this value is: W(u)

= 9.84. The drawdown is:

(10 m 3 /day)

s(r,t) =

(9.84) = 0.16 m

2

4 (50 m /day)

299

E XAMPLE 9.4.2

A single well pumps from a horizontally infinite

confined aquifer at a rate of 5 m3/day until

steady-state is reached. The well is of radius 5 cm

and shows a drawdown of 1 m. At a monitoring

well located 100 meters from the pumping well

the drawdown is 0.1 m. Estimate the

transmissivity of the aquifer. Based on the

estimate, what is the expected steady-state

drawdown at a radius of 50 meters?

The two dierent head measurements can be used to

estimate the transmissivity:

T=

= 6.1 m 2 /day

2

1 m 0.1 m

Based on the estimated transmissivity and the measured

drawdown, the radius of influence can be determined:

" 2 (6.1 m 2 /day)(0.1 m) %

" 2Ts %

R! = r exp $

'

' = (100 m)exp $

(5 m 3 /day)

# Q &

#

&

= 215 m

" 50 m %

(5 m 3 /day)

s(r) =

ln

$

' = 0.19 m

2 (6.1 m 2 /day) # 215 m &

300

S ECTION 5

The linearity of the governing equation in groundwater

flow (most notably for confined aquifers) allows for the

application of the principle of superposition of solutions. What

this means is that if a complicated problem can be broken

down into a series of additive simpler ones (each with their

own solution), the solution to the complicated problem can be

obtained by adding up the solutions. This can be used for any

number of groundwater flow problems. Several types of

problems involving pumping wells are commonly solved via

this approach. Examples where this is useful include:

1. An infinite aquifer with multiple wells (instead of just a

single well)

2. Non-infinite aquifers with a no-flux boundary condition

3. Non-infinite aquifers with a fixed-head boundary condition

4. Combinations of the above cases

Additionally, cases where a regional natural groundwater flow

exists to which pumping wells are added can be solved via

superposition. Here we will focus on the above examples, with

the understanding that even more complicated problems can

be solved via superposition.

To start, the easiest example of superposition is the case

of a confined aquifer of infinite extent with multiple wells.

Conceptually, we know that a single well generates a

symmetric drawdown around the well. Multiple wells will have

multiple cones of depression that can form a complicated

head/drawdown field. The linearity of the single well solution

(with respect to h) allows for the determination of the total

drawdown as simply the summation of drawdown from each

well in the well field. (Note for an unconfined aquifer,

superposition does not strictly apply since the governing

equation is not linear in h). So the actual drawdown (s) is

given by:

(9.5.1)

where this assumes there are N wells. The x- and ycoordinates are used rather than r simply because each well

will have its own radial coordinate system. In practice, the

drawdown at a given location can be determined by finding

the distance from that point to each pumping well and using

that distance as the argument in the single-well solution (i.e.

in Equations (9.4.5) or (9.4.16)) to get each of the individual

drawdown predictions in Equation (9.5.1).

Figure 9.7 shows an example of a case with 2 wells with

pumping rates Q1 and Q2. In general, the pumping rates may

dier. Even for this relatively simple case, the composite

drawdown curve is complicated. For example, there is a local

maxima in between the two wells, with local minima at the

two wells. The local maxima corresponds to the location

where the head gradient is zero (implying no flow). It

301

E XAMPLE 9.5.1

It is required to de-water (i.e. lower the water

table) below a construction site that 80 m by 80

m in area as shown in plan below.

F IGURE 9.7 Drawdown solution for multiple wells via superposition (solid line) from single well solutions (dashed line).

flow from one well to another well. The specific locations of

these features depend on the relative pumping rates and

distances between wells. It is also important to keep in mind

that the resulting head is a 2D field (map) which could be

represented as a contour map of piezometric head or

drawdown. In the simple one-well case, the contours would be

concentric circles around the well. For multiple wells the

drawdown becomes much more complicated. Superposition

can be applied for any number of wells in a confined aquifer.

In the case of an unconfined aquifer, superposition can be

applied using confined aquifer solutions (as an approximation)

if the drawdown is relatively small compared to the

undisturbed head.

below the initial water surface elevation of 100 m

(see cross-section figure shown below). Four

pumps are to be used in 0.5 m diameter wells at

the four corners of the site. The aquifer has

K=15 m/day and the wells each have a radius of

influence of 600 m. Assuming all four wells pump

302

state pumping rate that has to be extracted from

each of the four wells to meet the desired

objective.

a radius from one of the wells:

The total drawdown from all four wells must be:

where if the pumping wells are operating at the same

rate, the drawdown due to each well will be 1.5m/4

=0.375 m. Inverting the drawdown equation for a single

well yields the corresponding pumping rate:

Q =

2Ts(r)

2 (15 m/day)(100 m))(0.375 m)

=

ln(r / R")

ln(56.7 m / 600 m)

= 1498 m 3 /day

thick compared to the drawdown, the solution will

behave like that of a confined aquifer with T=KH0 (i.e.

the governing equation is linear). This simplification is

useful because it allows for the application of

superposition of single-well solutions for a confined

aquifer. Next, we can note that the lowest drawdown

Building upon the example of multiple wells, we can

apply superposition to solve problems that involve non-infinite

aquifers. In this context, non-infinite means there is some

feature which impacts the flow to the well that is within its

radius of influence. There are generally two examples of this:

no-flux and fixed head BCs.

The first case we will discuss involves a no-flux boundary

within the radius of influence of the well. An example of such

a system is shown in the top panel of Figure 9.8.

303

supply that amount of water to preserve mass balance. In the

simple case of an infinite aquifer, the water comes

symmetrically from all directions with the result that

drawdown is a symmetric cone of depression around the well.

The primary consequence of the no-flux boundary is that flow

is cuto from a portion of the aquifer so that the water must

be supplied by other portions of the aquifer, leading to nonsymmetric and generally higher drawdown. While this

complicated problem could be solved numerically, the question

is can we use superposition to our advantage to solve the

problem using the addition of single-well solutions?

The use of superposition to solve such problems is often

referred to as the method of images. We can start with a

proposed solution as the summation of two single-well

solutions, i.e.:

(9.5.2)

first term on the right-hand-side is the predicted drawdown of

a single-well solution at the location of the real well and the

second term on the right-hand-side is a single-well solution for

an image (or imaginary) well located at a particularly chosen

location to satisfy the real conditions. The key condition that

needs to be satisfied in the no-flux boundary case is that the

head (or drawdown) gradient must be zero everywhere along

the no-flux boundary.

panel is the real system and the bottom panel is the conceptual

model using superposition with a pumping image well to ensure the no-flow boundary. The dashed lines in the bottom image are the single well solutions which when superposed yield

the real cone of depression (adapted from Mays, 2005).

way of doing this is to use symmetry to our advantage. This

304

real well on the other side of the boundary (hence it is an

image well with the boundary serving as the mirror), with

the same pumping rate as the true well. The result of this for

a no-flux boundary is shown in the bottom panel of Figure

9.8. Due to the symmetry of the choice made, adding the

drawdowns together ensures the proper BC at the location of

the impermeable boundary (i.e. dh/dr = 0). Moreover adding

F IGURE 9.9 Contour map of a single well solution in the presence of an impervious boundary. Note this is obviously incorrect as the gradient is non-zero at the boundary.

the two solutions over the entire domain provides the actual

cone of depression for this case (shown with the solid line).

Another example is shown in Figures 9.9 - 9.11 in terms

of the drawdown fields. Figure 9.9 illustrates that a single well

solution for the real system violates the no-flux BC. Figure

9.10 shows the contours for the drawdown fields predicted by

each of the (real and image) well drawdown solutions. Figure

9.11 shows the summation of the two drawdown fields, which

the real and image wells.

305

Finally, note that the solutions used in Equation (9.5.2) could

be either transient or steady-state depending on the particular

problem.

(superposition) of the real and image well solutions shown in

Figure 9.10.

the impermeable boundary. Additionally it is clear that the

overall drawdown is significantly increased, most notably in

the region between the real well and the impervious boundary.

As one moves away from the impervious boundary on the far

side of the real pumping well, the drawdown approaches zero.

Strictly this occurs at a distance equal to the radius of

influence. The impact of the boundary will disappear at a

The other type of non-infinite aquifer condition that

often must be dealt with is that of a stream boundary. For

simplicity, the stream is often modeled as a fixed-head BC

(Figure 9.12). The primary consequences of the fixed-head

boundary is that the boundary acts as a water source that

would not exist in an infinite aquifer, so that less water is

required to be supplied by the rest of the aquifer leading to

non-symmetric and generally less drawdown. Superposition

can again be used to solve this problem. We again choose to

add an image well at the same distance as the real well, but

on the other side of the fixed-head boundary. However, rather

than making the image well a pumping well (to represent the

water loss and no-flux boundary condition provided by the

impervious boundary) we make it a recharge well (to represent

the extra source of water provided by the stream boundary).

By symmetry, since the real and image wells are the same

distance and the same magnitude of pumping rate, the

amount of drawdown predicted by the single-well solution for

the real well is exactly balanced by the same amount of

build-up as a result of recharge. Therefore, everywhere along

the fixed-head boundary the drawdown is zero. This is shown

in the bottom panel of Figure 9.12. Moreover we see that

generally there is less overall drawdown everywhere in the

aquifer due to the extra source provided by the stream.

306

Another example analogous to that shown in Figures

9.9-9.11 for the no-flux BC is shown in Figure 9.13 for the

fixed-head BC. The setup is exactly the same as before except

that the image well involves recharge so that there is a sign

change in the image well drawdown contours. In this case the

drawdown from the image well is negative (build-up). By

summing up the two single-well solutions, we get the result

shown in Figure 9.13. As can be seen, the drawdown is

head boundary using the image well approach. The top panel is

the real system and the bottom panel is the conceptual model

using superposition with a recharge image well to mimic the

no-flow boundary The dashed lines in the bottom image are the

single well solutions (one discharge and one recharge) which

when superposed yield the real cone of depression (adapted from

Mays, 2005).

and an image recharge well solution.

307

drawdown is less than for a single well in an infinite aquifer.

E XAMPLE 9.4.2

A pumping well for a confined aquifer is located

100 meters away from a valley wall as shown

below. The well is pumping 0.06 m3s-1. The

storativity of the aquifer is 10-4 and the

transmissivity is 950 m2day-1. Find the total

piezometric surface (head) drawdown at the

midpoint between the pumping well and the

valley wall after 2 days from the start of

pumping.

E XAMPLE 9.4.2

The drawdown due to the pumping well if there were no

boundary would be (using the Theis solution):

Q

W (u1 );

4 T

Sr12

(10 4 )(50 m)2

u1 =

=

= 3.3 10 5

2

4Tt 4(950 m /day)(2 day)

W (u1 ) = 9.76

s1 = s(r = 50 m, t = 2 days) =

s1 =

86400 s

)

1d

9.76 = 4.24 m

4 (950 m 2 /day)

(0.06 m 3 s 1

would yield a drawdown of:

Q

W (u2 );

4 T

Sr12

(10 4 )(150 m)2

u1 =

=

= 2.96 10 4

2

4Tt 4(950 m /day)(2 day)

W (u1 ) = 7.55

than 100 meters, then the bedrock outcrop will need to

be handled as a no-flux boundary condition using an

image well. Further, the pumping is in the transient

phase (2 days after pumping).

s2 =

86400 s

)

1d

7.55 = 3.28 m

2

4 (950 m /day)

(0.06 m 3 s 1

308

These examples show some of the power of the

superposition principle to solve relatively complex problems in

a relatively easy way. Even these examples/concepts of

superposition could be used to build up solutions for more

complicated problems. For example, if a pumping well is in a

river valley with a horizontal head distribution prior to

pumping, the aquifer may have a stream BC condition on one

side and a impervious boundary on the other. Depending on

the radius of influence of the well (i.e. given its pumping rate)

both boundaries may impact the flow patterns. In such a case

one may use two image wells and have an additive solution

with three terms instead of two. Or even more complicated

yet, the original head distribution (prior to pumping) may not

be horizontal, but itself the solution of a 1D flow problem

between the two BCs with recharge. In this case the solution

could be the summation of the original piezometric head

distribution combined with the drawdown from the real and

imaginary wells. Another example would be the case with

multiple real wells with a no-flux or fixed-head BC (or both).

In this case each real well would have a corresponding image

well. In these types of problems the hardest part is breaking

down the real problem into its constituent parts (each of

which has an analytical solution), with the easy part being

determining the solution via superposition of the individual

solutions.

As groundwater flow problems become more complex,

one may instead need to solve the problem numerically. In

such a case, the aquifer is discretized into small dierential

units and the GW flow equations are solved on the finite

corresponding to a square island (i.e. with fixed head

boundary on all four sides) that is subject to a non-uniform

steady-state recharge (i.e. more recharge in the northeast

corner of the island). Numerical solution of the 2D flow

equation yields the steady-state piezometric head on the grid,

showing a characteristic recharge mound with flow implicitly

down the head gradient to the island boundaries. Figure 9.15

shows a solution for the same recharge pattern, but with five

pumping wells extracting water from the aquifer. As expected,

the solution is a superposition of the solution in Figure 9.14

square island with non-uniform recharge.

309

the same recharge as in Figure 9.14, but with five pumping

wells.

illustrates the more complicated flow patterns that may exist

in real groundwater flow problems.

310

S ECTION 6

Conceptual Questions

1. Name the two types of groundwater aquifers. Describe how

they dier.

2. What type of aquifer generally occurs closest to the land

surface (i.e. is shallowest in the subsurface)?

3. In an unconfined aquifer, what physical boundary does the

piezometric surface correspond to?

4. In an unconfined aquifer, is the piezometric surface above

or below the upper boundary of the aquifer? Explain.

groundwater problem. What do you know about the head

at the no-flux boundary?

10. What is the dierence (in meaning) between a transient

and steady-state pumping problem?

11. What is the general shape of the piezometric surface

surrounding a single pumping well?

12. What are the underlying assumption/s used in the

development of the three single-well solutions derived in

this chapter?

13. Define the meaning of radius of influence in the context of

a pumping well.

unconfined and confined aquifer.

groundwater problems. For which type of aquifer is

superposition strictly applicable or not applicable?

for groundwater problems? What two dimensions are used

in this equation?

groundwater flow problem (i.e. why is it used?).

solving for?

8. In the 2D groundwater flow equation, what is the name of

flux entering the top of the aquifer? Is it typically higher for

an unconfined or confined aquifer?

311

from point (3 km, 3 km) to the edge of the island.

S ECTION 7

Sample Problems

approximate value? Explain your reasoning for choosing where

the flux is largest.

underneath a 5 km x 5 km square island (with a homogeneous

and isotropic hydraulic conductivity of 1 m/day) is plotted in

the contour map below. The datum is such that the head on

all sides of the boundary of the island is 0 m.

steady-state groundwater cross-section (marked by the thick

line on the inset map) of Long Island, New York. The island is

composed of glacial sedimentary deposits that have a known

saturated hydraulic conductivity of 60 meters/day. If the

length of the cross-section is 30 kilometers and the

groundwater mound peak is 6 meters above sea level, what is

the average groundwater recharge over Long Island (in mm/

year)?

your solution should start with a clear identification of what

the governing equation for this groundwater flow problem is

followed by a general solution of the governing equation. The

specifics of the problem can then be used to find the

particular solution.

312

diagram illustrating the steady-state positions and conditions

of a pond and river relative to a confined aquifer.

chemical substance into the pond. Assuming that the chemical

instantly mixes with the pond water, estimate how long (in

days) it would take for the contaminant to get to the river.

You can reasonably assume that the chemical moves with the

water (i.e., it doesnt adsorb to the soil). The aquifer

properties are: porosity=0.426, b = 18 m, and T = 0.85 m2 s-1.

The height of the pond surface above the datum (hp) is 537 m,

the height of the river above the datum (hr) is 531 m, and the

length of the aquifer (l) is 7 km.

Problem 9.4. A common method of cleaning up

contaminated aquifers is via a pump-and-treat approach

where a pumping well is installed to extract the polluted

water where it can then be treated above ground and either

recharged back into the aquifer or disposed of o-site. There is

a proposal to pump-and-treat water from a partially polluted

confined aquifer (see figure shown below). A key feasibility

question is the time it will take to pump out the polluted

plume. In order to first characterize the aquifer properties, a

0.11 m3 s-1 until steady-state is reached. In two observation

wells located 15 m and 65 m away from the pumping well, the

dierence in water elevation at the two observation wells is

measured to be 2.3 m. The porosity is estimated to be 0.492

using the soil cores obtained during the well construction.

a) What is the hydraulic conductivity of the aquifer material

in m day-1?

b) What is the expression for pore-velocity (v) toward the

well?

c) Find the expression for travel-time t(r) from radius r to the

pumping well. Hint: For non-constant pore-velocity v:

t(r) =

dr

v

on whether it is practical to pump-and-treat large pollutant

313

aquifer.

determined that the maximum steady-state drawdown in the

riparian zone must be less than or equal to 0.1 meters. The

municipal agency would like to pump 65 m3/day from the

well. The radius of influence under these pumping conditions

is 5000 m. Will this pumping rate satisfy or violate the

steady-state riparian zone drawdown constraint? Justify your

answer. The transmissivity of the aquifer is 100 m2/day, and

L1 = 2500 m, L2 = 1500 m and L3 = 1000 m.

installation in a confined aquifer in a valley that is bounded

by a river on one side and a bedrock (i.e. impermeable)

outcrop on the other (shown in plan below). A riparian zone

borders the river and contains habitat that is deemed vital to

a particular migratory bird species. The vegetation draws its

rootzone soil moisture via capillary forces from the shallow

!

314

Chapter 10

Runoff and

Streamflow

S ECTION 1

Learning Objectives

By the time you finish this chapter you should be able to:

stormflow for a particular storm given the UH for that

duration storm

11. Describe the key dierences between using a physicallybased distributed modeling approach and the UH method

how they work

2. Describe the basic mechanisms for subsurface runo and

how they work

3. Define and describe the dierences between distributed

hydrologic modeling and lumped hydrologic modeling

4. Dierentiate between stormflow and baseflow

5. Understand the concept of baseflow separation and be

able to apply the basic empirical approaches for baseflow

separation

6. Describe the primary assumptions of the unit hydrograph

(UH) method

7. Construct a D-hour unit hydrograph from data

8. Understand and describe the concept of eective (or

excess) rainfall and how it relates to stormflow

9. Construct a D*=nD -hour unit hydrograph from a D-hour

unit hydrograph

316

S ECTION 2

Traditionally, runo and streamflow are a major focus of

hydrology due to their relation to both floods and water

supply. Simply put, runo is a lateral flux (either at the

surface or in the subsurface that transports water toward the

stream channel network. High (rare) runo events lead to the

potential for flooding, which can be mitigated via flood

protection measures (levees, detention basins, culverts, etc.).

Streamflow can be captured behind a dam in a reservoir to

store water that would otherwise be lost downstream.

Runo into streams (where it becomes streamflow) is an

integration of several upstream processes in a watershed. It

can be thought of as an integrated response of the watershed

to storm and/or snowmelt events. Specific mechanisms for

generating runo will be described in the next section. To

start, it is worth noting that topography generally plays a

significant role, not just in the amount of runo, but in

directing it downstream. An example of a DEM is shown in

Figure 10.1, where one can readily see mountain peaks and

valley troughs across the landscape. In Chapter 1 we

described how one can delineate a watershed by choosing an

outlet point (on a stream) and tracing out all points upstream

of that location that would ultimately flow to it. Implicit in

derive stream channel network.

gradient (slope).

A stream (or river) network is simply an expression of

this fact, where a stream is generally just defined as points

in a basin where water will generally collect via the routing of

flow over the topography or through the groundwater system.

We can define this more precisely by computing a quantity

like the contributing area of each point in the basin. The

contributing area (Ac) is simply the area (or equivalently the

number of pixels in a DEM) upstream of a given location, i.e.

all the points that will flow into that pixel. Some limiting

cases are the watershed outlet, which by definition has the

entire watershed area as its contributing area, and the points

317

them (i.e. Ac = 0). A stream pixel can therefore be defined as

any pixel that has a contributing area above some threshold

(e.g. 1% of the basin area). One can compute and plot the Ac

(actually plotted as log(Ac)) as shown in Figure 10.2. What

clearly stands out is low values (dark blue) for the ridges and

higher values (yellow/red) for the valley areas. If one only

accepts stream pixels as those with contributing areas greater

than 1% of the total basin area, the stream network can be

identified simultaneously with the watershed delineation

(Figure 10.3). Given this construct, one can identify two kinds

those regions with a flow accumulation above a specified threshold (i.e. Ac = 1%).

F IGURE 10.2 Flow accumulation patterns across terrain derived from DEM in Figure 10.1. Areas of high flow accumulation (red) correspond to stream channels while areas of low

flow accumulation area (dark blue) represent watershed

boundaries.

pixels. Water falling on hillslope pixels will infiltrate and/or

runo to the nearest stream channel pixel and then water will

flow down the stream channel network toward the outlet.

Movie 10.1 illustrates this eect. Processes that occur on the

hillslopes generate runo and the streamflow at any point in

the stream channel network is an integration of upstream

runo processes. Runo amounts will vary by location in the

watershed and will have variations in travel time from any one

location to the outlet. The amount of flow crossing the outlet

at any point in time is generally referred to as a hydrograph

(described more in Section 4).

318

from different locations in a basin (from COMET program).

319

S ECTION 3

Runo Generation

Mechanisms

Runo is generated as a result of a water flux being

applied to the surface. This flux can either be in the form of a

rainstorm or snowmelt (Figure 10.4). Storm events can vary in

terms of intensity and duration, both of which should impact

the runo. For conceptual purposes, one can think of

F IGURE 10.4 Conceptual picture of runoff resulting from either rainfall or snowmelt.

section is on the various mechanisms that are responsible for

generating runo. Note that they should depend on the

characteristics of the storm and the characteristics of the

basin (soils, slopes, etc.). The motivating questions for this

section are: What are the mechanisms that generate runo?

When, why, and where do they occur in a basin? How do they

contribute to the overall flow in a stream?

Figure 10.5 shows a conceptual picture of hydrologic

fluxes in a basin with particular emphasis on runo

mechanisms contributing streamflow. Runo can be classified

into two main categories: i) surface (overland) runo and ii)

F IGURE 10.5 Components of various runoff and related processes contributing to streamflow.

320

infiltration excess runo or saturation excess runo. The

former was already discussed to some extent in Chapter 7

since it is directly connected to the infiltration capacity of the

surface. Subsurface runo is generated by either interflow or

baseflow and is simply related to groundwater flow processes

discussed in Chapter 9. Each of these mechanisms are

elaborated on below.

Infiltration excess runo, often referred to as Hortonian

runo after Horton (1933), is related to the infiltration

process at the surface. As described in Chapter 7, depending

on the antecedent soil moisture condition and soil properties,

a soil has a given infiltration capacity. Depending on the

storm intensity (and duration), the soil may reach a state in

which the precipitation intensity exceeds the infiltration

representation of this phenomenon. The amount of water that

is reaching the surface cannot be fully infiltrated into the soil.

As such, there will generally be ponding (saturation) at the

surface (even though the subsurface soil is not saturated),

which, given a sloped surface, will result in runo. As shown

in Chapter 7, it is important to remember that this particular

process is a threshold process. When the precipitation rate is

less than the infiltration capacity (i.e. before ponding) or less

than the minimum infiltration capacity of the soil (i.e.

saturated hydraulic conductivity), all water will infiltrate,

meaning there will be no runo. Movies 10.3 and 10.4

illustrate this by showing a hillslope experiencing two dierent

precipitation intensities, one of which results in no runo and

the other results in infiltration excess runo.

As discussed in Chapter 7, the infiltration rate for the

general case (where ponding occurs at some point during the

storm) can be written as:

P, t 0 t t p

f (t) =

fc (t tc ), t p t tr

M OVIE 10.2 Animation of infiltration excess runoff mechanism at a given location on a hillslope.

(10.3.1)

used via the time compression approximation. By definition,

the infiltration excess runo rate is simply given by: Qie(t) =

P - f(t). So the infiltration excess runo is zero up until

ponding occurs. Figure 10.6 illustrates the cumulative

infiltration and cumulative infiltration excess runo that

occurs over the course of the storm. The cumulative depth of

321

program).

runoff for a general case.

tr

t0

ie

(t) =

tr

tr

[P f (t)]dt = [P f (t t )]dt

t0

tp

(10.3.2)

10.6. It should be noted that this runo generation mechanism

occurs only during the storm and is often in localized areas of

low conductivity soils (i.e. P >> Ks) where ponding is

generated at the surface. If ponding does not occur, then no

infiltration excess runo can occur.

COMET program).

322

E XAMPLE 10.3.1

Compute the cumulative infiltration excess runo

for the case described in Example 7.7.1.

The cumulative infiltration excess runo can be

computed via the integral in Equation (10.3.2).

Alternatively if the cumulative infiltration is already

computed (as in Example 7.7.1), then the runo is

simply the dierence between the cumulative rainfall and

the cumulative infiltration. So for the Philip solution the

estimated runo would be:

tr

t0

ie

(t) =

tr

t0

= 63 mm

water table, the pores quickly fill up until the surface is

saturated from below. At that point, any additional

precipitation is falling on saturated soil (i.e. no ability to

infiltrate) and therefore completely runs o. Movie 10.6 shows

another illustration of the process. The key point is that for

this mechanism to work, the initial water table must be

relatively shallow. This condition generally occurs near the

stream, so contributing areas that generate saturation excess

runo are most often localized around the stream network.

Moreover, these areas are often referred to as variable

contributing areas in reference to the fact that, based on the

groundwater dynamics, they grow and contract both

seasonally and during and after the course of a storm. An

example of this is shown schematically in Figure 10.7. In this

example, before a large storm there is little saturated area

would be:

tr

t0

ie

(t) =

tr

t0

= 53 mm

The second overland flow generation mechanism is

referred to as saturation excess runo. It is sometimes referred

to as Dunne runo in reference to the work that first

identified the mechanism (Dunne, 1975). This mechanism

occurs when the groundwater table (due to recharge from

above) saturates the soil from below. Movie 10.5 shows a

conceptual representation of this phenomenon. In this case all

323

generally dominate over infiltration excess runo. The fact

that Dunne runo is the primary contributor was a new

discovery, where prior to those studies it was thought that

Hortonian (infiltration excess) runo was the primary

overland runo generating mechanism. It turns out that only

in areas of low conductivity soils and/or as a result of very

high intensity storms will Hortonian runo tend to be a

significant contributor to total overland flow. In areas of

snowmelt, either mechanism can generate runo depending on

the melt rate, conductivity, and saturation of the soil

underlying the snowpack. In both mechanisms, due to high

surface flow velocities, and/or proximity to channel network

rising groundwater table.

runo. After a large storm the variable contributing area is

significantly larger. The areas often surround the stream

channel network where the groundwater table intersects the

surface. During the drydown the groundwater table recedes

and the variable area shrinks. During the wet season when

contributing area is larger, more saturation excess runo can

be generated.

The relative importance of infiltration excess and

saturation excess runo depends on several factors including

soils and climate. In humid areas with relatively low intensity

F IGURE 10.7 Illustration of variable contributing areas growing and contracting during and after a storm. These areas are

the locations expected to generate saturation excess runoff

(adapted from Dingman, 2008).

324

the channel network relatively quickly, contributing to

stormflow during or shortly after the storm event.

In addition to overland flow, two runo generation

mechanisms are associated with subsurface processes. These

are illustrated conceptually in Figures 10.8 and 10.9.

Interflow, or perched stormflow, is the lateral movement of

water through the unsaturated zone. Since the hydraulic

gradients in the unsaturated zone are generally largest in the

vertical direction (i.e. driving vertical flow), lateral flow is

groundwater (adapted from Beven, 2004).

water table) on a low conductivity soil lens. Another interflow

mechanism, that is much more dicult to characterize, is that

occurring via so-called macropores. These network of pores

are generally the result of root growth or biological factors

that eectively create channels in the soil that can eciently

transport water (Figure 10.10). Generally speaking, interflow

is often a relatively small component of total runo.

Additionally, due to relatively low subsurface velocities,

interflow may reach the stream network after the storm ends.

The final subsurface runo mechanism is generally

referred to as baseflow. It is simply lateral groundwater flow

into the stream channel network (Figures 10.8 and 10.9). The

flow can be from either unconfined or confined aquifers. In

Chapter 9, streams were treated as boundary conditions in the

groundwater flow problem. As seen in those examples the flux

is generally into the stream channels, which is exactly what

baseflow is. In the steady-state groundwater flow problems

325

in the problem. In reality of course the two systems are

coupled via mass balance. Baseflow from the groundwater

system supplies the river network which in general may cause

an increase in river stage (height).

Finally, with respect to storms it is important to keep in

mind the time scales of subsurface processes (Table 1.3). First,

the percolation and recharge resulting from a given storm can

take a significant amount of time (porous media velocities are

low groundwater flow velocities imply that the recharged

water often reaches the stream significantly after the storm.

This is precisely why perennial streams exist, where

streamflow occurs even in the dry season when storms are not

occurring. During these low flow conditions, the streamflow is

completely made up of baseflow. The various components of

the streamflow hydrograph will be discussed in more detail in

the next section.

326

S ECTION 4

Streamflow Hydrographs

The mechanisms described in the previous section

ultimately lead to runo that contributes to streamflow. One

could envision measuring streamflow at a given point in the

stream network. If measured, the amount of flow crossing that

point (i.e. cubic meters per second) would simply be the result

of all upstream flow processes (both runo to the closest

downstream channel location and flow down the stream to the

measurement point) as a function of time. The streamflow

crossing a given point over time is generally referred to as a

hydrograph, where one can conceptualize the total flow (Q)

as:

Baseflow corresponds to groundwater flow, while other components together are often referred to as stormflow. The fractional components depend on the storm and basin characteristics (adapted from Mays, 2005).

(10.4.1)

amounts of runo related to the infiltration excess, saturation

excess, interflow, and baseflow runo mechanisms.

Figure 10.11 shows a schematic of a streamflow

hydrograph (at a basin outlet) resulting from a rain storm.

The figure shows the typical characteristics of the hydrograph

curve as well as hypothetical contributions from dierent

runo mechanisms. Prior to the storm, and before any runo

reaches the outlet, the hydrograph is composed entirely of

baseflow from the basins groundwater system. The rising limb

of the hydrograph generally occurs shortly after the storm

(infiltration excess and/or saturation excess, i.e. Qie(t)+Qse(t).

Typically the overland runo contribution peaks early in the

hydrograph response. After the peak, the falling limb of the

hydrograph will ultimately recede (generally much more

slowly than the rising limb) back to baseflow levels.

Secondarily, the interflow and baseflow tend to respond more

slowly to the storm, often peaking after the overland flow has

moved past the outlet.

How much each mechanism contributes to overall

streamflow, as well as the hydrograph shape, depends on both

327

(intensity, location, etc.) as well as static factors related to

basin characteristics (topography, soil types, vegetation types,

etc.).

Figure 10.12 illustrates how the hydrograph can vary as

a result of the spatial distribution of a storm over a basin.

Storm A is isolated over an extreme location of the basin and

Storm B is uniformly distributed over the basin. For Storm A,

the runo is generated far from the outlet and therefore takes

a significant amount of time to reach peak flow. For Storm B

the peak occurs much earlier since areas nearer the outlet

generate runo. Additionally, the total volume of runo (i.e.

integration of the hydrograph) is larger for Storm B since the

contributing area is so much larger.

Figure 10.13 illustrates how hydrograph shape can vary

as a result of the temporal distribution of precipitation during

the course of a storm. The left panel shows a case where the

hydrograph (adapted from Mays, 2005).

F IGURE 10.13 Impact of rainfall timing on stormflow hydrograph (adapted from Mays, 2005).

highest intensity rainfall occurs late in the storm and the right

panel shows a case where the highest intensity rainfall occurs

earlier in the storm. In the former case the rising limb is less

steep with a later peak.

Figure 10.14 illustrates how particular basin

characteristics can impact the hypothetical storm hydrograph.

The top panels show the response for basins of diering slope;

steeper basins will have hydrographs that respond and recede

more quickly. The bottom panels show the response for basins

of diering roughness; basins with higher roughness will

respond and recede less quickly. Another factor that is not

shown is the level of imperviousness, which is especially

relevant in urbanized basins. Basins with high levels of

urbanization will have more infiltration excess runo and

therefore the hydrograph will respond and generally recede

more quickly. Additionally, the available storage in the basin

can have an impact; basins with little storage will respond and

recede more quickly.

328

F IGURE 10.14 Impact of basin slope and roughness on stormflow hydrograph (adapted from Mays, 2005).

Some of these factors are highlighted in the form of

animations shown in Movies 10.7-10.9. The travel time of

water falling on a basin, as one measure of basin response, is

generally going to be impacted to first-order by key static

characteristics like basin shape, size, and slope.

Lastly, in discussing the streamflow hydrograph it is

important to define the stormflow hydrograph. For flood

forecasting and flood mitigation design, engineers are most

often interested in the quick response or stormflow portion of

the hydrograph. Nominally, this is the portion of the

hydrograph that is in direct response to the storm. Since

baseflow is often relatively small and responds with significant

lag to a storm, the stormflow generally refers to the

infiltration excess, saturation excess, and interflow

components of the hydrograph (i.e. stormflow neglects

portions of the basin for varying basin sizes.

329

portions of the basin for varying basin slopes.

often small, stormflow and overland runo are sometimes used

synonymously. The next two sections describe some examples

of modeling hydrograph response of a basin, where implicitly

the goal is the modeling of the stormflow hydrograph.

330

S ECTION 5

Rainfall-Runo Modeling:

Unit Hydrograph

The modeling of streamflow for a basin is not only of

implicit hydrologic interest, but has deep roots in the

engineering practice of flood forecasting and the need for

design flood estimation. In either of these applications, the

peak flow and the timing of the flow are key input parameters

to the design/forecast. Models that can be used for predicting

hydrographs span a large range of complexity. A detailed

treatment of modeling runo is given in Beven (2012).

In this section we will focus on a classical method used

in hydrology called the unit hydrograph (UH) method, which

is specifically designed to predict the stormflow hydrograph

for a given storm. Some of the underlying choices in this

method include: treating the basin as a lumped response unit,

using historical (archived) data to develop the model response

function, and making some simplifying assumptions including

using a systems (black-box) response approach. The primary

benefit of these choices is that the model is very

computationally ecient. In the next section we will focus on

a more physically-based approach that is becoming more

commonly applied in research and/or practice.

The UH approach is an empirically-based method to

predict stormflow response for a given storm. Conceptually,

input (i.e. precipitation) one can develop a response function

that yields an output (stormflow) hydrograph. In particular,

the method uses excess (or eective) precipitation as the

input, which corresponds to the cumulative amount of

stormflow runo from a given storm. In other words, the

excess precipitation is the total precipitation minus the depth

that infiltrates (and therefore does not contribute to runo. So

one way to look at the method is that if one knows the total

amount of runo, the UH method transforms that cumulative

amount into its temporal distribution (including rising limb,

peak flow, recession, etc.).

The basic idea of the UH approach is to derive the unit

response function for an excess precipitation storm of D-hour

duration. In this context the unit response refers to the

response to 1 cm (or 1 inch) of excess precipitation. The

length of the storm that generated excess precipitation

(runo) will have a first-order impact on the shape of the

hydrograph, which is why all UHs are tied to a particular Dhour event. The key assumption of the UH method is that the

basin responds linearly to excess precipitation inputs. If the

basin does respond linearly, then superposition can be used (a

key aspect of the UH method). The other assumptions in the

UH method are generally implicit in the linear response

assumption. As described in the previous section, the shape of

the hydrograph will change if the storm varies in space across

the basin (Figure 10.12). For a useful response function to be

derived, its shape must be representative and reproducible.

Hence an implicit assumption in the UH method is that the

331

occurs uniformly over the basin, then the shape of a measured

streamflow hydrograph should be representative of the static

characteristics of the basin (i.e. soils, slope, roughness, etc.)

and therefore have useful predictive utility. Note that the

shape is thus inherently tied to a basins characteristics and

therefore dierent basins should have dierent unit

hydrographs. Similarly, if the excess precipitation is uniformly

distributed over the D-hour event, the linearity assumption

will be most valid. In addition to the above assumptions, one

would expect that antecedent soil moisture and groundwater

table conditions before the storm are important (i.e. will

determine how much infiltration vs. runo occurs and how it

is distributed across the basin). Hence it is conceivable that

dierent unit hydrographs could be developed for dierent

antecedent conditions. Real-world departures from these

simplifying assumptions are relatively common and will

undoubtedly introduce errors into UH stormflow predictions.

We will first discuss the recipe used to construct a Dhour UH. Then we will discuss the various ways in which they

are applied. The key inputs needed for construction of a UH

are shown schematically in Figure 10.15 and consist of a

streamflow hydrograph, the basin area, the basin-averaged

excess rainfall, and the duration (D) of the excess rainfall.

Note that the excess rainfall and duration of excess rainfall

are in general less than the actual rainfall and actual storm

duration. You should be able to convince yourself of this by

considering the special case where only infiltration excess

runo occurs, while keeping in mind that in this special case

runo. As shown in Figure 10.6, runo would only begin after

ponding, so that in this case the duration of excess rainfall

would be D = tr - tp and the excess rainfall would be the

integral shown in Equation (10.3.2). The more general case is

more complicated as the excess rainfall also includes

saturation excess rainfall (and perhaps interflow) as well, but

the concept is similar in that some of the precipitation will

infiltrate and not contribute to stormflow. The steps of a UH

construction are outlined sequentially below.

332

hydrograph as: Qt , where t corresponds to discrete time

periods (e.g., every 30 minutes or every hour).

Step 2: The second step is to remove the baseflow at each

time step (Bt) from the streamflow hydrograph. This is done

because the UH method makes no attempt to predict baseflow

(only stormflow). If desired, the baseflow can be added back

to the predicted stormflow to get the total predicted

hydrograph. The conceptual picture is illustrated in Figure

F IGURE 10.16 Illustrative example of a streamflow hydrograph that can be used to derive a unit hydrograph.

streamflow hydrograph for the basin (e.g. Figure 10.16). Note

this implies that there are streamflow measurements for the

basin of interest. If no measurements exist, then synthetic

UHs must be used (Mays, 2005). Here we focus only on the

case where measurements are available. The hydrograph is the

result of runo mechanisms described in Section 3 that are

driven by a storm of a given duration and intensity. From

historical records of precipitation, one may know the upper

bound of the excess rainfall duration, but it will need to be

identified specifically as described below. From a data

perspective, the hydrograph can generally be tabulated as a

streamflow hydrograph. The duration of excess precipitation is

a key input that defines a D-hour response.

333

hours) and the same hydrograph shown in Figure 10.16. The

baseflow is shown in green. Note that in general we do not

actually know what the baseflow is. Figure 10.18 shows a

similar picture, but with the time to peak and the time of

concentration labeled on the graph. The time of concentration

represents the time it would take for water from the most

distant part of the basin to reach the outlet and corresponds

to the inflection point in Figure 10.18. By definition it

represents the time at which the quick-response runo

components go to zero leaving only the baseflow component of

attempting to estimate the baseflow. The simplest method

assumes that there is no baseflow response to the storm event,

which is equivalent to assuming Bt = Qt0 (i.e. the baseflow is

equivalent to the streamflow prior to the storm event). Under

this simplified model, the baseflow is simply a constant in

time. Slightly more sophisticated empirical methods attempt

to estimate the inflection point to account for increases in

baseflow during the response. One example (Mays, 2005)

assumes the hydrograph trend before the storm response

(which may be a recession curve from the previous storm)

continues until the time to peak and that the inflection point

is Ndays after that time, where:

N days = 1.21A0.2 ;

(10.5.1)

are given in Mays (2005). Note that these are all empirical

relationships and therefore generally not dimensionally

consistent. Using any of these or other empirical techniques,

one can estimate a discrete time series for baseflow: Bt.

and time of concentration for the streamflow hydrograph.

precipitation) by removing the baseflow and integrating under

the stormflow hydrograph. The removal of baseflow yields the

stormflow hydrograph (Figure 10.19), i.e.: Qt - Bt. If the

baseflow was estimated accurately, then the integral under

this curve should exactly match the cumulative quick-response

runo (stormflow). When transformed to depth, this is by

definition equal to the excess precipitation, which therefore

can be calculated by:

334

F IGURE 10.19 Plot of the stormflow hydrograph with baseflow removed from the original streamflow hydrograph.

Pe =

1

(Q B)dt

A

F IGURE 10.20 Conceptual picture of the process of converting total volume of excess runoff to the equivalent amount of

uniform runoff depth over the basin.

(10.5.2)

a volume and the area transforms it to a depth (Figure 10.20).

This will yield the total depth of the excess precipitation

(runo). In practice, the curve is not known analytically, but

at discrete times, so the above integral is estimated via a

numerical approximation (i.e. the rectangular or trapezoidal

methods).

Step 4: Normalize the storm flow hydrograph by the eective

rainfall to get the D-hour unit hydrograph (Figure 10.21). In

simply be divided by Pe, so that the unit hydrograph is given

by:

ht =

Qt Bt

Pe

(10.5.3)

where the units of the UH are flow units per unit depth of

stormflow, i.e. m3/s/cm. The UH simply represents the

response function that would occur if 1 cm of eective rainfall

occurred over D hours.

335

in the middle of the storm exceeded the threshold. Hence in

this example, we would have an excess rainfall duration of D

= 3 hours. Therefore the UH shown in Figure 10.21 is the 3hour UH. Note that this particular method assumes that the

loss function is constant in time, which may be an

oversimplification (i.e. in the case of infiltration excess runo).

Additionally, it shows that the excess precipitation is not

spread uniformly in time over the 3 hours, which is a violation

of the underlying UH assumptions. Nevertheless, this is

representative of a typical situation where the UH is applied.

is converted to the unit hydrograph by dividing by the equivalent depth of runoff. Note the units of the unit hydrograph are

volumetric flow per unit stormflow depth (e.g. m3/s/cm).

the above UH construction is implicitly in response to a Dhour excess rainfall event, the actual duration must be

determined prior to application. The rainfall hyetograph (time

series) gives some indication of the duration of the storm, but

the duration of excess rainfall will generally be less than the

storm duration due to infiltration. Figure 10.22 shows an

example of one method to determine D. In this example the

storm was a 12-hour storm. To determine D, a precipitation

depth is found such that the amount above the line equals the

excess precipitation found in Step 3. Implicitly, the

precipitation below this cuto line infiltrated into the soil and

went into storage, while the amount above the line went to

excess precipitation.

336

E XAMPLE 10.5.1

The hydrograph shown below was measured at

the outlet of a 1 km2 watershed in response to a

storm event that corresponded to 2 hours of

excess precipitation. Construct the 2-hour UH

from this hydrograph. For simplicity assume the

flow at the start of the hydrograph is

representative of the baseflow.

TIME

(HOURS)

FLOW

(m3/s)

0.05

0.10

0.15

0.13

12

0.10

15

0.08

18

0.05

removal. In this case the flow at the beginning of the

storm is assumed representative of baseflow and

subtracted to generate the stormflow hydrograph:

TIME

(HOURS)

STORMFLOW

(m3/s)

0.0

0.05

0.10

0.08

12

0.05

15

0.03

18

0.0

integrating under the stormflow hydrograph and

normalizing by the basin area (Equation (10.5.2)). Using

the trapezoidal rule, the integral can be estimated as:

(0.08 + 0.05) + (0.05 + 0.03) + (0.03 + 0.0)m 3 /s]

(3h)(3600s / h) / (1 km 2 / (1000 m)2 )

= 0.0067 m = 0.67 cm

The original hydrograph can then be normalized by the

excess precipitation to get the UH (Equation (10.5.3)):

337

TIME

(HOURS)

UH (m3/s/cm)

0.0

0.074

0.148

0.118

12

0.074

15

0.044

18

0.0

precipitation event is of a 2-hour duration and not

because of anything about the time base of the

hydrograph itself (which is a function of basin size and

other characteristics). The shape of the UH is the same

as the original hydrograph with the peak occurring at 6

hours after the start of the storm event. The UH can be

used to estimate peak flow for storms associated with

other excess precipitation amounts (and other storm

durations) via superposition as described below.

The end result of the UH construction process is the

determination of the unit response of the basin (i.e. to 1 cm of

excess rainfall) over a D-hour duration. Once constructed, the

UH can be used in applications, including the prediction of

response to other D-hour events of varying intensity as well as

response to storms of dierent excess precipitation intensity

and duration. This is done via superposition based on the

assumed linear response of the system. Three examples of

applications of the UH method are presented here including:

prediction of stormflow from a dierent D-hour storm,

construction of an (nD)-hour UH from a D-hour UH (where n

is an integer multiple), and prediction of response from a more

complicated excess precipitation event.

The simplest application of the UH method involves

using a D-hour UH to predict the response of a dierent Dhour event. For example, suppose for design or flood

prediction purposes you want to predict the resulting

hydrograph for a 6-hour eective rainfall event with Pe of

excess precipitation. The entire basis of the UH approach is

that the system behaves linearly so that the shape should be

invariant, but the magnitude can be scaled. So in this case, if

you have a 6-hour UH, you would simply scale it by Pe:

Qt = Pe ht

(10.5.4)

hydrograph will exactly equal Pe. Examples of this for storms

with 0.5 and 2.0 units of eective precipitation (e.g. cm) are

shown in Figure 10.23. Note that implicit in this is that the

starting and ending times of stormflow do not change, only

338

superposition. One can use this to construct an (nD)-hour

UH. Suppose n = 2 and D = 1 hour. By starting a UH at

time zero and lagging a second UH by one hour (blue curves

in Figure 10.24) and summing the two together would yield a

hydrograph with 2 cm of stormflow. This summed hydrograph

can then simply be rescaled (in this case divided by 2) to yield

the 2-hour UH. This operation is the same as taking the

average of the two lagged UHs and results in the red curve

shown in Figure 10.24, which is the 2-hour UH (constructed

for different amounts of excess precipitation based on scaling

the unit hydrograph.

for the scaled event, one could add back an estimate of the

baseflow.

Another application of the UH method is the

construction of an (nD)-hour UH from a D-hour UH. This

approach again uses linearity to its advantage. Suppose for

example a 2-hour excess precipitation event occurred with 1

cm of rainfall in each hour. Linearity suggests that the

response to this should be identical to the summed response of

a 1-hour event of 1 cm followed by a second 1-hour event of 1

unit hydrograph from two 1-hour unit hydrographs lagged by

one hour and re-scaled to correspond to a unit amount of

stormflow.

339

from two 1-hour UHs). This could then be used to predict the

response to any 2-hour event.

The final application discussed here is the case where

there is an excess precipitation event of longer duration than

the available UH and of varying excess precipitation

throughout the event. An example is that shown in Figure

10.25, which shows an excess precipitation time series over a

24-hour period. For the purposes of illustration, we will

assume we have already constructed a 6-hour UH for this

basin. One approach would be to construct the 24-hour UH

from four lagged 6-hour UHs as described above and then

use of superposition of multiple UHs (e.g. four 6-hour UHs)

might perform better than the use of a single 24-hour UH.

Another approach is to break the event into smaller pieces,

apply UHs to each, and then sum them up to get the full

response. One reason to do the latter over the former is if

there are considerable variations in excess precipitation over

the course of the event. In the special case that the excess

precipitation were constant over the 24 hours, then the two

approaches would be expected to be identical. In this example

we could propose to break the excess precipitation hyetograph

into four 6-hour pieces. Again, linearity lets us treat each as

independent events where the responses to each can

ultimately be summed up (often referred to as convolution).

By breaking the event up, each sub-period comes closer to the

assumption of constant excess precipitation over its duration.

For each sub-period, the response will be the 6-hour UH

starting at the beginning of the event scaled by the excess

precipitation taking place over that period. In Figure 10.26,

the four periods are color-coded as green, blue, red, and

yellow and the respective responses (i.e. scaled 6-hour UHs) to

each are shown in the bottom panel. Using superposition, the

stormflow hydrograph resulting from all of the events over the

24-hour period can be obtained by adding up the individual

responses as shown schematically with the black line in Figure

10.27. This is illustrative of the power of superposition where

a single UH is used to build up a model to a more

complicated input. The net result is a prediction that is

considerably more complicated than that from a single event

response and includes multiple local maxima. Whether the

prediction is accurate depends on the validity of the

underlying UH assumptions.

340

6-hour storms. The linearity assumption allows for the predicted response of each 6-hour event. The bottom panel

shows the stormflow hydrographs (i.e. scaled UHs) corresponding to each 6-hour event. The color of each hydrograph corresponds to the same color excess precipitation event.

event. The color of each hydrograph corresponds to the same

color excess precipitation event. The bottom panel shows the

predicted total response (in black) which is simply the summation (superposition) of each of the individual (colored) response hydrographs shown in Figure 10.26.

341

E XAMPLE 10.5.2

frequently hit by intense thunderstorms. You

decide to investigate the peak flows for two

possible extreme thunderstorm events (which are

the largest expected amount to fall in each

duration storm): 1) a one-hour storm with a

cumulative eective rainfall of 24 cm and 2) a

three-hour storm with a cumulative eective

rainfall of 45 cm. The 1-hr unit hydrograph (UH)

constructed for the watershed is shown in the

table below.

that the basin is composed of soils with a large

saturated hydraulic conductivity and that the

unit hydrograph was constructed from a typical

intensity storm. What runo generation

mechanism can you reasonably hypothesize was

primarily responsible for the basin response seen

in the unit hydrograph?

TIME

(HR)

UH FLOW

(m3/s/cm)

10

each storm (based on a unit hydrograph

analysis). Which of the two storms yields a

higher peak runo?

we expect the same runo generation mechanism

to be responsible for the peak stormflow? How, if

at all, should we expect this to impact the

accuracy of the UH-based prediction?

a) The first storm has duration of 1 hour, which allows

us to directly use the UH ordinates while scaling them

for the actual eective precipitation; this also means that

the peak time occurs at the same time for which the UH

peaks:

= (10 m 3 /s/cm)(24 cm) = 240 m 3 /s

For the 3-hour storm, the three 1-hour UHs can be used

with the first UH starting at t = 0 h, the second UH

starting at t = 1 h and the third UH starting at t = 2 h.

342

The one-hour lag for each UH is possible if superposition

is invoked whereby the 3-hour event can be

conceptualized as three separate one hour events. Each

UH can be scaled by 15 cm (i.e. 45/3 cm) so that the

total cumulative eective precipitation is equal to the

desired total. At each hour the scaled runo values can

be summed via superposition. For this particular case

the peak flow is 225 m3/s at both t = 2 and 3 h.

b) If the soil is highly conductive and the UH was

derived from a typical storm (i.e. precipitation intensity

was not too high) it is highly likely that runo is

generated via the saturation excess mechanism (i.e.

Dunne runo) rather than the infiltration excess

mechanism (i.e. Hortonian runo) which generally

requires P >> Ks.

c) Since the events analyzed are extreme events it is

likely the precipitation intensity is much larger than a

typical storm. This increases the likelihood that there

will be infiltration excess runo (instead of saturation

excess runo). If the runo mechanism generating runo

for the storm of interest is a dierent mechanism than

that underlying the original UH, it is possible that the

UH will not be of appropriate shape and therefore the

predictions could be erroneous. A physically-based model

may be more appropriate in this case.

While in the UH construction the excess precipitation is

determined directly from the historical hydrograph,

applications to other events require some estimate of Pe. In

reality it is determined by the runo generation mechanisms

occurring in the basin, which depend on the precipitation

intensity, soil type, and antecedent conditions (i.e. initial soil

moisture). In practice it is often estimated empirically. One

commonly applied method is the so-called SCS method

developed originally by the U.S. Soil Conservation Service

(now known as the Natural Resources Conservation Service

(NRCS)). A schematic of the assumed processes is shown in

Figure 10.28, where Ia is the initial abstraction (i.e. where all

water infiltrates), Fa is the continuing abstraction (potentially

decaying infiltration rate), P is the total precipitation and Pe

is the excess precipitation. Based on empirical evidence from

many small experimental watersheds, the excess precipitation

can be estimated by:

(P 0.2S)2

Pe =

P + 0.8S

(10.5.5)

watershed. The storage is typically estimated by:

S=

1000

10

CN

(10.5.6)

dimensionless and varies between 0 and 100. A value of CN =

100 corresponds to an impervious surface (i.e. no storage and

343

runo modeling just as easily as a rain storm with the

appropriate modifications.

2. The linearity assumption makes for a very computationally

ecient rainfall-runo model that can be easily

implemented on a spreadsheet and modified for many cases

as illustrated above.

3. By the same token, there is no guarantee that the linearity

assumption is a good one. Any model is only as good as its

underlying assumptions, so the user must be careful in

application of the UH method to minimize errors that could

be introduced as a result of improper assumptions.

Mays, 2005).

method, is a complete lack of knowledge of the underlying

physical mechanisms responsible for the runo and

sensitivity to errors as a result of unaccounted for changes

in the basin. For a more physical treatment of the rainfallruno processes, physically-based models like those

described in the next section may be required.

use, soil types, and antecedent moisture conditions. Tabulated

values can be found in Mays (2005) or other sources. Given

the estimate of excess runo for a given storm, the UH

method can then be applied using a derived UH of the

appropriate duration.

344

S ECTION 6

Rainfall-Runo Modeling:

Physically-based Models

The unit hydrograph approach to rainfall-runo

modeling described in the previous section has been and

continues to be widely used. If one needs only basin outlet

runo predictions and the underlying assumptions of the UH

method are reasonably valid for the basin of interest, then

UH-based predictions may be sucient (and often are, e.g. for

design purposes). The empirical nature of the approach

however includes limitations.

The primary alternative to empirical modeling is

modeling using physically-based approaches. This simply

means that the processes within the basin are modeled using

the physics that have been the primary basis of this book. As

has been made clear in earlier chapters, the primary drivers of

watershed processes are precipitation and net radiation. Given

these inputs, a set of processes ensue that include infiltration,

evaporation, unsaturated zone moisture redistribution,

recharge, groundwater flow, and runo. Each of these is

governed by physical processes that can be expressed in terms

of models. If tied together into an integrated unit, the model

becomes a physically-based hydrologic watershed model. One

should be plainly aware of the tradeos between models.

Physically-based models have the potential for a more robust

modeling framework (that may include modeling of interior

generally require significantly more input data, both

meteorological data and characterization of the basin (soils,

vegetation, terrain, etc.). At least part of the reason (beyond

simplicity) that empirical models have been the traditional

approach to rainfall-runo modeling is that hydrology used to

be a very data-limited enterprise, where a given basin may

have had a single stream gauge and perhaps a few rain

gauges. For such a limited data environment, simpler models

make sense. However, with the advent of remote sensing that

has been discussed in earlier chapters, many key hydrologic

inputs (precipitation, radiation, topography, etc.) are available

in a much more comprehensive way. Such new data streams

raise the possibility of implementing more complicated

models.

The first step in physically-based modeling is generally a

decision about to what extent processes are represented in

space. Figure 10.29 illustrates three distinct ways in which a

watershed can be discretized in space for modeling and

analysis. Choosing a method of discretization has tradeo

implications related to explicitly modeling processes, accuracy

due to both the degree of underlying spatial variability and

available data, and computational demand. Many existing

models are available that span various levels of discretization

as well as how processes are modeled.

The simplest approach is generally referred to as using a

lumped modeling approach (left panel in Figure 10.29). In a

lumped approach the entire basin is lumped or grouped

together in one unit. The UH method is an example of a

345

basin in model: lumped (left panel), semi-lumped or semidistributed (middle panel), or distributed (right panel) (from

COMET Program).

models, the physical processes may be represented (i.e.

evaporation, infiltration, runo) with basin-scale mass balance

and flux equations (in varying ways), but no attempt is made

to account for spatial distributions within the basin. Inputs to

lumped models would include mean areal estimates of

precipitation, radiation, etc. and the outputs would be basin

runo as well as basin-averaged estimates of evaporation and

storage in the various modeled reservoirs. An example of a

widely used lumped model is the Sacramento Soil Moisture

model that is used by the National Weather Service (NWS)

River Forecasting Centers.

represented schematically in Figure 10.30. Sometimes such

models are referred to as conceptual models in that the

physical processes may be represented in a more

parameterized way. The primary goal of such lumped models

is the outlet hydrograph.

An intermediate approach that attempts to discretize the

basin to represent some of the spatial variability, is referred to

346

panel of Figure 10.29). In this approach the basin is

discretized into several sub-units (either sub-watersheds or

areas between elevation contours). In such a framework, each

sub-unit is treated as a lumped unit. Mean areal inputs are

required for each sub-unit and mean areal outputs are

basin as used in the USACE HEC-HMS model.

basin-outlet runo, the runo from each sub-unit must be

routed to the outlet. Techniques for routing hydrographs are

described in more detail in the next section. An example of a

widely-used semi-lumped model is the U.S. Army Corps of

Engineers (USACE) HEC-HMS model (USACE, 2010) which

is shown schematically in Figure 10.31. In this model the full

watershed is discretized into a series of sub-basins (lumped

units) that are connected via a series of river reaches.

Finally, the last approach generally used involves socalled distributed hydrologic models (right panel in Figure

10.29). In this approach the basin is discretized into relatively

small units (typically either on a regular grid or via a

triangular irregular network [TIN] yielding Thiessen polygontype units). The attractiveness of distributed models is that

increasingly available spatially-distributed datasets (i.e.

NEXRAD RADAR, satellite-based radiation, topography,

etc.) can be used to model processes at a high resolution. The

desire to model within-basin processes or how changes to a

basin (i.e. urbanization) impact the hydrology can be

addressed with such a model in ways that lumped models

cannot. The drawback is the increased need for input data

and specification of model parameters. An example of a

raster-based (i.e. grid-based) distributed model is the MIKESHE model (Graham and Butts, 2005), which is shown

schematically in Figure 10.32. Such grid-based models are

consistent with many of the relevant datasets (e.g.

topography) that are also raster-based. Other models take

advantage of the potential for increased computational

347

F IGURE 10.33 TIN-based distributed schematic representaF IGURE 10.32 Distributed schematic representation of basin

tribs/tinmodeldiagram.jpg).

WaterResources/MIKESHE.aspx).

computational mesh. In such models, the individual modeling

units are the triangular elements of the TIN or the Thiessen

(or Voronoi) polygons formed by the TIN. An example of one

such model is the so-called tRIBS model (Ivanov et al, 2004),

which is represented schematically in Figure 10.33.

For the rest of this section, the focus is on distributed

hydrologic modeling, where the simpler modeling approaches

a single or handful of lumped units. Figure 10.34 shows a

single cell (or pixel) in a distributed model. Implicit in any

discretization is that the processes at the pixel-scale can be

treated as a homogeneous unit. The spatially-distributed

inputs include all relevant meteorological data (precipitation,

radiation and reference-level air temperature, humidity, wind

speed, etc.). At the surface, surface mass and energy balances

can be solved, which partition the incoming precipitation into:

infiltration, evapotranspiration, interception, and unsaturated

348

zone storage and net radiation into: surface sensible and latent

heat fluxes, ground heat flux and soil energy storage.

Subsurface processes that are modeled may include: one

dimensional flow in the unsaturated zone (including

redistribution and groundwater recharge), and groundwater

mass balance. Lateral fluxes modeled at the pixel-scale include

overland flow (infiltration excess and saturation excess) and

subsurface runo (interflow and baseflow). These runo

generation mechanisms yield an outflow hydrograph for each

F IGURE 10.35 Illustration of saturation excess runoff generation predicted by the tRIBS distributed model (from Enrique Vivoni personal communication).

Vivoni personal communication).

cannot be obtained in a lumped approach is shown in Figure

10.35, which illustrates the fraction of saturation excess runo

occurrence from each pixel in a basin.

In applying a distributed model, not only are the

hydrologic point-scale processes at each unit modeled

349

an important component. Figure 10.36 shows an example of

hydrographs at both internal and outlet nodes.

in a distributed model.

10.29. Such connectivity can be derived from topographic

information as described in Section 2. The routing scheme

used by the model takes hydrographs generated at a given

interior point and routes them downstream (Figure 10.37).

The explicit routing takes into account increase in peak flow

due to downstream accumulation as well as translation and

attenuation in time. The end result is the outflow hydrograph

(which is also output by a lumped model) along with

knowledge of all of the interior processes (and their spatial/

temporal variability) that led to the streamflow hydrograph.

350

S ECTION 7

Streamflow routing is simply the solution for the

hydrograph at a given point (or at all points) along a stream

channel as a function of time. The most general form of

solution is often termed hydraulic routing and is simply the

solution of unsteady flow in a channel. The mean flow in a

stream channel is downstream and hence the flow can

generally be treated as one-dimensional with the stream

channel as the single spatial coordinate (i.e. the x-direction),

as represented schematically in Figure 10.38.

One can derive the one-dimensional unsteady flow

equation starting with the continuity (mass balance) equation

originally shown in Equation (1.5.2), which for mass

conservation yields:

0=

d

dV + CS V dA

dt CV

(10.7.1)

length dx in the channel. The mass inflow rate is given by:

inlet

V dA = (Q + qdx)

(10.7.2)

stream channel (adapted from Mays, 2005).

351

lateral inflow (per unit length of channel) and represents, e.g.

the overland runo into the stream. The mass outflow rate is

given by:

Q

V

dA

=

(Q

+

dx)

(10.7.3)

x

outlet

where the second term on the right-hand-side represents the

increment in flow due to lateral inflow and/or any storage

changes. Finally, the rate of change of mass stored in the

control volume is given by:

dV

=

( Adx)

dt CV

t

(10.7.4)

three terms back together yields:

( Adx)

Q

(Q + qdx) + (Q +

dx) = 0

t

x

(10.7.5)

continuity equation:

A Q

+

q = 0

t

x

(10.7.6)

and cross-sectional channel area. Note however that this

need to apply another independent constraint via the

momentum equation.

The momentum equation can also be derived from

Reynolds Transport Theorem (Equation (1.5.1)) and written

as:

F =

d

V dV + CS V V dA

dt CV

(10.7.7)

term on the right-hand-side represents momentum storage and

the last term represents the divergence of momentum. The net

force can be written as:

F = F

+ Ff + Fe + Fp

(10.7.8)

is the force associated with expansion/contraction of the

channel, and Fp is the unbalanced pressure force. The sum of

all forces can be expressed as:

y

dx

x

(10.7.9)

loss per unit length of channel), Se is the head loss due to

expansion/contraction and the unbalanced pressure force is

due to dierences in hydrostatic pressure on either side of the

352

The momentum inflow rate is given by:

V V dA = (VQ + v qdx);

inlet

(10.7.10)

momentum coefficient

entering the upstream face and the second is the momentum

entering laterally (i.e. due to lateral influx q) where vx is the xcomponent of the velocity of the lateral influx. The

momentum coecient accounts for the nonuniform

distribution of velocity in the channel cross-section (Mays,

2005). The momentum flux at the outlet of the elemental

volume is given by:

(VQ)

V

V

dA

=

VQ

+

dx)

(10.7.11)

x

outlet

where the last term represents a change in momentum flux

(either as a result of the lateral influx of momentum or due to

a storage change). Finally, the rate of change of momentum

storage is given by:

d

Q

V

dV

=

dx

dt CV

t

(10.7.12)

yields:

# y

&

Q (Q 2 A)

+

+ gA % S 0 + S f + Se ( qvx = 0

t

x

$ x

'

cross-sectional area (A) and therefore is not an independent

(new) variable. So Equations (10.7.6) and (10.7.13) provide

two equations for the two unknowns: Q and A (or depth y).

Together they are often referred to as the Saint-Venant

equations which are a coupled set of PDEs that describe the

1D unsteady flow in a channel (subject to initial/boundary

conditions and lateral inflow) and are often solved numerically

(Mays, 2005).

Many of the commonly used equations for flow in open

channels/streams can be derived as special cases of the SaintVenant equations. Simplifications may include steady-state, no

lateral inflow, uniform flow, etc. Because of their wide use

they are quickly covered here.

1. Steady-flow with no lateral inflow: For steady flow with no

lateral inflow (i.e. q = 0), the continuity equation becomes:

A

Q

+

q =0 = 0

t =0 x

which simply states that Q = constant from one cross-section

to the next (i.e. Q1 = Q2 or V1A1 = V2A2), which is the

commonly applied steady-state mass balance. Under the same

assumptions, the momentum equation simplifies as well:

Q

t

# y

&

(Q 2 A)

+

+ gA % S 0 + S f + Se ( q =0vx = 0

x

$ x

'

=0

(10.7.13)

353

implicit in the second term and noting that:

dy

dh

S0 =

dx

dx

(10.7.14)

Fr =

gD

D=

A

;

B

B top width =

dA

dy

(10.7.17)

where h is the height of the water surface above the datum

(Figure 10.38). This yields:

dh d V 2

+

= S f Se

dx dx 2g

Under the same assumptions as above, but for a prismatic

channel (i.e. of a regular shape that does not change with x),

by definition Se = 0 (and the momentum coecient is

approximately 1.0), which yields a further simplification to the

momentum equation (expressed in terms of water depth y):

d V

2 dy

=

F

r

dx 2g

dx

2

(10.7.18)

(10.7.15)

flow in a natural channel. Note this is an ODE (not a PDE)

and can be integrated rather easily (most often numerically).

dy d V 2

+

= S0 S f

dx dx 2g

dy S 0 S f

=

dx

1 Fr2

(10.7.16)

in prismatic channels. Note that this equation is an ODE

(rather than a PDE) and can be integrated relatively easily.

3. Steady-uniform flow (with no lateral inflow): Simplifying

further for the case of uniform flow (with the same simplifying

assumptions as above), i.e. where there is no variation in the

x-direction, the momentum equation can be simplified:

Q

t

=0

y

(Q 2 A)

+

+ gA

x

x

=0

=0

S 0 S f Se q =0vx = 0

which yields:

S 0 = S f + Se

(10.7.19)

S0 = S f

(10.7.20)

frictional and expansion/contraction head losses exactly

354

be derived from energy considerations.

in terms of velocity (here using SI units):

The special case of uniform flow is one of particular

interest and worthy of additional discussion. From dimensional

analysis one can show that the bed shear stress associated

with friction is given by:

V =

V2

0 = Cf

= gRS 0

2g

(10.7.21)

hydraulic radius of the channel (cross-sectional area divided

by wetted perimeter [i.e. perimeter of cross-section in contact

with water]). Solving Equation (10.7.21) for the mean velocity

yields:

V =

2g

RS 0 = C RS 0

Cf

(10.7.22)

1 23 12

R S0

n

(10.7.24)

Q=

1

AR 2 3S 01 2

n

(10.7.25)

steady-uniform flow (with no lateral inflow to the channel).

For nonuniform flow, the Manning equation can be generalized

by using Sf in place of S0. The Manning roughness parameter

depends on the type of channel bed and is often tabulated

(e.g. Mays, 2005).

E XAMPLE 10.7.1

flow. The Chezy coecient (C) represents a measure of the

roughness of the stream channel bed. The Manning equation

involves an empirical expression for C:

C =

1 16

R

n

(10.7.23)

together with Equation (10.7.22) yields the so-called

rectangular channel with a width of 3 m, a water

depth of 0.5 m, a bed slope of 0.001 and a

Manning roughness coecient of 0.02.

For uniform flow we can use the Manning equation. For

the channel/water depth conditions, the cross sectional

area is equal to: A = 1.5 m2. The hydraulic radius is

given by the ratio of the area to wetted perimeter:

355

A

(1.5 m 2 )

R= =

= 0.375 m

P (2(0.5 m) + 3 m)

1

Q=

(1.5 m 2 )(0.375 m)2 3(0.001)1 2 = 1.2 m 3 s 1

(0.02)

2 3

! (3 m)y $

((3 m)y) #

&

" 2y + (3 m) %

= (0.1 m 3 s 1 )(0.02)(0.001)1 2

= 0.0632

equation is not dimensionally consistent.

above equation is y = 0.101 m. Note that this depth is

much smaller than the width (i.e. 0.1 m vs. 3 m). In such

cases, a wide-channel assumption is often invoked

whereby:

E XAMPLE 10.7.2

P = B + 2y B, if B << y

channel in Example 10.7.1 if the discharge is 0.1

m3 s-1.

Manning equation:

depth of flow given a rectangular cross-section of width

B:

2 3

! By $

1

12

Q = (By) #

& S0

n

" 2y + B %

which shows that even for a simple cross-sectional

geometry, the nonlinearity of the Manning equation

requires an iterative solution for the depth y. Specifically,

2 3

" By %

1

1

Q (By) $ ' S 01 2 = By 5/3S 01 2

n

n

#B &

y = (QnS 01 2B 1 )3/5

For the conditions shown above this would yield a depth

estimate of 0.099 m, which is a close approximation to

the real solution. This approximation is only valid under

the wide-channel assumption mentioned above.

356

The Saint-Venant equations are sometimes referred to as

the dynamic wave equation because they fully describe the

dynamics of 1D unsteady flow in a channel. In this regard

they can be used to model any number of phenomena

including floods, tides, nonuniform flow, uniform flow, etc.

The price for this generality is one of computational demand

since the Saint-Venant equations are expensive to solve.

The kinematic wave equation is another special case of

the Saint-Venant equations that is generally more easily

solved. By definition a kinematic wave (as opposed to a

dynamic wave) is one where the acceleration terms, pressure

term, and lateral influx of momentum are all negligible, i.e.

The result of the above simplifications is essentially a

reduction of the two equation governing system to a single

governing equation. For uniform flow the momentum equation

can also be expressed in the general form relating A and Q as:

A = aQ b Q = cAd

condition so that the two governing equations (continuity and

momentum) for the kinematic flow equation are:

A Q

+

= q(x,t)

t

x

(10.7.26)

S0 = S f

(10.7.27)

3 5

3

;b =

5

or

12

1 S0

c=

;

n P2 3

d=

5

3

(10.7.29)

to derive an expression for the kinematic wave equation

(either in terms of the dependent variable Q or A). To get the

governing equation in terms of Q, we can use:

A = aQ b

prismatic channel. So the kinematic wave equation is an

unsteady flow equation, but one where the wave motion is

determined primarily from mass balance. For many normal

floods in natural rivers the dynamic component of the wave

(10.7.28)

nP 2 3

a=

S0

Q (Q A)

y

+

gA

qvx 0

t

x

x

assumptions reasonably accurate. From Equation (10.7.27) it

is clear that the flow is uniform.

A dA Q

Q

=

= abQ b1

t dQ t

t

(10.7.30)

abQ b1

Q Q

+

= q(x,t)

t

x

(10.7.31)

357

a discretized channel (Mays, 2005). Similarly, to get the

governing equation in terms of A we can use:

Q = cAd

Q dQ A

A

=

= cdAd 1

x dA x

x

(10.7.32)

A

A

+ cdAd 1

= q(x,t)

t

x

(10.7.33)

case, the streamflow hydrograph Q(x,t) can be determined,

either directly via solution of Equation (10.7.31) or indirectly

via solution of Equation (10.7.33) and then using Equations

(10.7.28) and (10.7.29).

358

S ECTION 8

An alternative to hydraulic streamflow routing using the

dynamic wave method (or one of its special cases) is to use a

so-called hydrologic routing method. The primary dierence

between the two methods is that hydrologic routing is a

lumped approach, where a length (reach) of river is treated as

a lumped unit of storage (yielding flow at the reach outlet at

a given time), while hydraulic routing is a distributed

approach where the reach is discretized into many small pieces

to get the flow as a function of both space and time.

F IGURE 10.39 Stream channel reach storage conceptualization used in the Muskingum hydrologic streamflow routing

method (adapted from Mays, 2005).

Hydrologic routing starts with a lumped mass balance

equation for a specified reach of channel (Figure 10.39):

dS

= I(t) Q(t)

dt

(10.8.1)

hydrograph, and Q(t) is the outflow hydrograph. It is

generally assumed that the inflow hydrograph is known and

the goal is to obtain an estimate of the outflow hydrograph.

However Equation (10.8.1) alone is insucient, as a storageinflow-outflow relationship is needed to yield two equations in

two unknowns. The Muskingum method is a popular

hydrologic routing method that conceptualizes the storage in

storage (uniform cross-section across the reach) and wedge

storage. As a flood wave enters the reach, the wedge storage is

positive and when the flood recedes the wedge storage is

negative. The Muskingum method assumes the prism storage

is proportional to the outflow, i.e. KQ and the wedge storage

is given by KX(I -Q) where X is a weighting coecient

between 0 and 0.5. Note that if I > Q the wedge storage is

positive and if I < Q the wedge storage is negative. The total

storage is the sum of the prism and wedge storage so that:

(10.8.2)

359

weighted average of inflow and outflow. The parameter X is

typically on the order of 0.3 for natural streams. The

parameter K must also be determined and is roughly equal to

the travel time of the flood wave through the channel reach.

To perform the routing, the original mass balance

equation can be discretized as:

S j +1 S j

t

I j +1 + I j

2

Q j +1 + Q j

2

(10.8.3)

dierence approximation to the time derivative, and the righthand-side fluxes are approximated by their respective average

over the time step. Additionally, the storage change can be

represented by:

(10.8.4)

yields the following routing equation:

Q j +1 = C 1I j +1 + C 2I j + C 3Q j

(10.8.5)

C1 =

t 2KX

2K(1 X ) + t

(10.8.6)

C2 =

t + 2KX

2K(1 X ) + t

(10.8.7)

C3 =

2K(1 X ) t

2K(1 X ) + t

(10.8.8)

where the C1, C2, and C3 coecients sum to 1.0, meaning that

Equation (10.8.5) is simply a weighted average of the righthand-side terms. Provided the inflow hydrograph (as a

function of time), the initial outflow, and the parameters K

and X, Equation (10.8.5) can be applied recursively to yield

the outflow hydrograph. Methods for determining the

parameters generally require historical inflow and outflow

hydrographs or estimation via other means (Mays, 2005).

Cunge (1969) provided a connection between the

Muskingum method and the kinematic wave method. Recall

that the kinematic wave model is a hydraulic routing method

that provides a distributed estimate of discharge (i.e. at

discretized locations along the channel). One can express the

discretized solution of the kinematic wave model as:

j+1

j

Qi+1

= C 1Qij+1 +C 2Qij +C 3Qi+1

(10.8.9)

index represents the time step, which is in the exact form of

Equation (10.8.5). The use of Q at varying locations

represents the distributed nature of the estimate. The

coecients in Equation (10.8.9) are the same as those in

Equations (10.8.6)-(10.8.8). Cunge (1969) showed that when

K and the time step are constant, the above equation is an

approximation to the kinematic wave equation (Mays, 2005).

This representation is often referred to as the MuskingumCunge method.

360

S ECTION 9

Measurement of Streamflow

In the preceding sections it was assumed in various

locations that hydrograph data was available, i.e. at a basin

outlet. Here we briefly outline the primary ways those

measurements are made.

As with many hydrologic variables, streamflow is

generally not measured directly, but estimated indirectly from

measurements that are more straightforward to make. In a

stream, the measurements which are easiest to make include

water depth and velocity. In general, streamflow is estimated

via a rating curve, which is a derived or known from a

relationship between streamflow depth and discharge (flow).

Examples where a rating curve is known theoretically (or

empirically) include flow over or through certain constructed

structures (often called weirs or flumes; Mays, 2005; WMO,

2010). Figure 10.40 shows an example of a weir which is

constructed into a channel reach. The primary point of such

structures is to force the flow to go through a known flow

state transition, i.e. critical flow, which is a transition

between supercritical and subcritical flow conditions (see

Mays, 2005 for a thorough discussion of critical flow and

depth). This is usually accomplished via a constriction in the

flow geometry. When the flow is critical and the structure

geometry is known, there are empirical relationships between

flow and the critical depth or measured head. In such cases,

stalled (bottom panel) v-notch weir in a stream channel for estimating streamflow (from WMO, 2010).

be used to estimate the corresponding flow. In such structures,

flow depth is often measured automatically via a pressure

sensor or other mechanism.

361

Another mechanism for deriving rating curves and

streamflow measurements is via the manual measurement of

mean velocities in a channel cross-section. Velocity in a stream

can be measured using vertical axis mechanical current meters

(WMO, 2010; Figure 10.41), which are devices placed

perpendicular to the flow. The flow velocity turns a propellor

or anemometer (attached to a wading rod) which can then be

used to back out the velocity at the measurement point. It

should be noted that flow in a stream is generally turbulent,

which means that the velocity field can vary significantly (and

somewhat randomly) in space and time. To get an accurate

measurement of the mean velocity, measurements should be

taken over a long enough period to average over the turbulent

eddies. While flow is often written as: Q = VA, the V is the

average velocity across the entire stream cross-section, so

2010).

one can write the flow as the integral (over the cross-sectional

area):

Q = V dA

A

(10.9.1)

Figure 10.42. Based on this, the flow could be estimated via:

n

Q = Viyi wi

(10.9.2)

i =1

the product of depth and discretized width is the area of the

strip. Note that the velocity generally has a profile in the

vertical, with zero velocity at the stream bed and highest

velocity at the surface. A simple rule of thumb for the average

streamflow from stream cross-section area and multiple velocity measurements (adapted from Mays, 2005).

362

taken at a height of 20% and 80% of the depth at that

location. Using this manual approach, streamflow discharge

can be determined for a given river stage (depth). If done

several times spanning dierent flow conditions, one can

develop a rating curve. Once developed, a single manual depth

measurement could be used (along with the rating curve) to

estimate the discharge.

363

S ECTION 10

Conceptual Questions

Describe schematically how you would generate a 2-hour

unit hydrograph from your 1-hour unit hydrograph.

physically-based lumped and distributed modeling

approach.

3. Describe the mechanism behind interflow.

4. Describe the mechanism behind baseflow.

5. What is a variable contributing area?

Equations?

17. Describe the primary methods for how streamflow is

measured.

7. Describe how storm characteristics can impact an outlet

hydrograph.

8. Describe how basin characteristics can impact an outlet

hydrograph.

9. What is the primary assumption in the unit hydrograph

method? What principle does that assumption allow us to

apply?

10. What inputs are required for the construction of a D-hour

unit hydrograph?

11. What does D-hour refer to in the context of a unit

hydrograph?

12. What is stormflow?

364

unit hydrograph. Your answer should be in tabulated form.

S ECTION 11

Sample Problems

Problem 10.1. You are hired to assess the flash flood

potential of a given basin, where flash floods are generally

associated with short duration (high intensity) storms that

generate infiltration excess runo. The basin is composed of a

homogeneous silt loam soil. To comply with regulations for

the region, dierent downstream infrastructure must be

designed for various return-period storm events, where the

return-period is associated with the probability (and therefore

magnitude) of the storm event. The 1-hour duration design

storm events for the 10-year and 25-year return periods in this

region are:

STORM RETURN PERIOD

10-year

25-year

PRECIP. INTENSITY

2 cm/hour

7 cm/hour

flash flood stormflow (i.e. infiltration excess runo) for each

return period design storm? Design regulations dictate that it

should be assumed that 75% of the soil pore space is filled

prior to the storm. The Philip model can be used as an

infiltration capacity model (as needed).

b) A previous analysis of the basin found the 0.5-hr unit

hydrograph to be given by:

TIME

(HOUR)

FLOW (m3/s/cm)

0.5

1.0

10

1.5

15

2.0

2.5

3.0

predicted peak flash flood stormflow (i.e. design flow) for the

two return period storms analyzed in part a). The infiltration

excess runo values computed above can be treated as the

eective (excess) precipitation.

Problem 10.2. An environmental monitoring agency has a

rain gauge and a river gaging station installed at the outlet of

a basin. A rainstorm with 2 hours of eective rainfall

produced 2.6 cm of runo and resulted in the following

observed total hydrograph for the stream:

a) Assuming that the baseflow can be calculated by drawing a

straight line connecting the end points of the hydrograph,

365

TIME

(HOUR)

DISCHARGE

(m3/s)

3.11

3.45

6.51

16.36

18.25

12.28

8.29

5.72

4.53

10

3.11

runo. On the same plot, show the baseflow, direct runo, and

total discharge in m3/s.

is frequently hit by intense thunderstorms. As the engineer

responsible for designing a new flood protection structure, you

are asked to determine the peak design flow for which the

structure will be built. From your excellent hydrologic training

you know that shorter duration events have the possibility of

being of higher intensity and vice versa. So you decide to

investigate the peak flows for two possible extreme

thunderstorm events (which are the largest expected amount

to fall in each duration storm): 1) a one-hour storm with a

cumulative eective rainfall of 24 cm and 2) a three-hour

storm with a cumulative eective rainfall of 45 cm. The 1-hr

unit hydrograph for the watershed is shown in the table

below.

a) Estimate the peak stormflow corresponding to each storm

1-HR UH

TIME

(HOUR)

UH FLOW

(m3/s/cm)

b) Find and plot the 2-hour unit hydrograph for the basin.

10

12-hour eective rainfall that delivers 2 cm of eective rain in

the first half and 3 cm of eective rainfall during the second

half? Plot the resulting total hydrograph.

storms yields a higher peak runo?

366

basin is composed of soils with a large saturated hydraulic

conductivity and that the unit hydrograph was constructed

from a typical intensity storm. What runo generation

mechanism would you reasonably hypothesize was primarily

responsible for the basin response seen in the unit

hydrograph?

c) For the extreme events analyzed above, would you expect

the same runo generation mechanism to be responsible for

the peak stormflow? Explain your reasoning and what, if any,

additional mechanism/s might contribute to stormflow. How,

if at all, would you expect this to impact the accuracy of the

UH-based prediction? Explain.

367

Chapter 11

A Simple

Watershed

Model

S ECTION 1

Learning Objectives

By the time you finish this chapter you should be able to:

1. Understand the key components (i.e. inputs, governing

equations, and outputs) of a distributed watershed model

2. Describe the basic idea behind the TOPMODEL approach

3. Understand how analytical mass/energy balance equations

can be discretized and solved numerically

4. Setup and run watershed simulations using the provided

MOD-WET numerical watershed model code

5. Reconcile model simulation output (i.e. watershed

response) with your hydrologic understanding developed

in previous chapters.

369

S ECTION 2

The previous chapters have covered the various physical

processes involved in hydrology. Chapter 10 (Section 6)

provided an introduction into how these process-level physics

can be tied together into a unified framework via a distributed

watershed model. Many existing examples of distributed

models have been developed and are available for use in

hydrologic modeling (HEC-HMS, MIKE-SHE, tRIBS, etc.).

These models vary in many ways including: level of

conceptualization, physical process representation, degree of

lumped vs. distributed representation, and numerical

implementation. In this chapter an example of such a model is

put forth that is implemented in MATLAB and ties together

many of the processes covered throughout the book using

MOD-WET, thereby illustrating the modularity of the

framework. The goals are to: 1) develop a unified framework

that builds on what has been used previously and 2) provide a

model for qualitative and quantitative understanding of

hydrological processes and how they change as a function of

watershed properties. The MOD-WET model may not be

suitable for all applications, but provides a relatively userfriendly framework for developing and testing basic

processes in a watershed.

In developing a distributed watershed model,

computational expense is generally an important factor.

Physical process computations must be performed at each

pixel in a watershed so that, depending on the model

resolution and area (i.e. total number of pixels),

computational expense is many orders of magnitude greater

than that of a lumped model. Since the model to be used here

is meant to foster understanding of sensitivities of model

response to inputs/parameters, hypothesis testing, etc., we

intentionally choose a distributed framework that attempts to

minimize computational expense. As such, several simplifying

assumptions are made. Every attempt is made to clearly

identify the primary assumptions and simplifications in the

development below.

The underlying framework used here for runo is based

on one of the first distributed watershed models, typically

referred to as the TOPography based hydrologic MODEL

(TOPMODEL) developed by Beven and Kirkby (1979). The

model was motivated by the increased availability of spatially

distributed topographic data, i.e. the DEM data we have used

in earlier chapters. TOPMODEL was developed primarily to

predict saturation excess runo due to shallow groundwater

within a basin. So the TOPMODEL framework is used to

represent unsaturated zone-saturated zone interactions with

an emphasis on runo. Other components can be coupled to

TOPMODEL including snow accumulation and melt and

370

forcings).

The first key assumption used in the TOPMODEL

framework is that there is a similarity function that describes

hydrologic runo response. The similarity function originally

proposed was the so-called topographic index for pixel i:

! a $

i = ln # i &

" tan Si %

(11.2.1)

length for a given pixel in the basin ([ai]=L2L-1) and Si is the

slope of the pixel. In the case of a raster grid, the per unit

contour length amounts to the grid resolution. Note that this

index is a static map for a basin that can be computed from

DEM data. Pixels where flow is expected to converge (large

upstream area and/or shallow slopes) will yield large

topographic index values, while areas of divergence will yield

small topographic index values. Figure 11.1 shows the

topographic index computed for the DEM shown in Figure

10.1. Note that the highest index values tend to occur at

expected stream locations and the lowest values occur at

upstream areas with steep slopes. Note that based on

Equation (11.2.1), the index is not dimensionless (i.e. [ln(L)]).

This is generally an undesirable property, however this is not

overly problematic since only the relative value of the index is

used to determine the type of response of one pixel compared

to another. Specifically, it is assumed that pixels with the

same value of the index will respond identically with respect

computational savings in that repeated computations are not

necessary for pixels with the same index value. This

assumption will not always be a good one.

The second key assumption used in TOPMODEL is that

the saturated hydraulic conductivity in the unsaturated soil

zone decays exponentially with depth, i.e. for pixel i:

K s = K 0 exp(z i / m)

(11.2.2)

conductivity and m is an exponential decay parameter which

has dimensions: ([m]=L). This assumption has been shown to

be valid for some soils and invalid for others (Beven, 1997).

The model can be generalized for other profiles as shown in

371

parameters are often treated as calibration (or eective)

parameters and hence might not match tabulated values for a

given soil type. From the above assumption, one can

alternatively define the corresponding transmissivity

(Sivapalan et al., 1987):

T(z i ) =

K(z)dz K m exp(z

zi

/ m) = T0 exp(z i / m)

(11.2.3)

this version, there is no vegetation represented in the model.

Future versions could include vegetation processes. The

conceptualization connects to the original TOPMODEL via

the prediction of the saturation deficit (SD; where [SD] = L )

and baseflow (qb) as shown below (where the pixel index is

dropped for simplicity). The key meteorological inputs to the

replaced by the storage (or saturation) deficit SDi (detailed

below) and T0 is the saturated surface transmissivity (equal to

K0 m) which has dimensions: [T0]=L2T-1. From this, the

topographic index can be replaced with the soil-topographic

index, i.e.:

! a

$

i

i = ln #

&

T

tan

S

" 0

i%

(11.2.4)

to predict hydrologic response. From these two key

assumptions, various forms of the TOPMODEL approach

have been developed. The original approach was primarily

developed to predict baseflow and, by tracking the locations

where the water table intersected the surface (using the

topographic index), to identify variable contributing areas and

saturation excess runo.

Here the TOPMODEL approach is expanded in a similar

way to that shown in Takeuchi et al. (1999). A schematic

372

and those that drive evapotranspiration (E) at the surface.

The key outputs are overland flow which consists of saturation

excess runo (qse) and infiltration excess runo (qie) and

groundwater runo or baseflow (qb). Mass balances are applied

using unsaturated and saturated zone moisture states as

described below. Note that the model is conceptual in nature

in that mass balances are applied to various buckets or

reservoirs rather than via a vertical discretization of the

domain and solution of the unsaturated zone moisture budget

using Richards Equation (Equation (7.4.7)). Such a bucket

model approach is typically taken for computational savings.

The form of the surface mass and energy balance

depends on whether or not there is snow cover. For the case

with no snow cover, the prognostic (soil) surface energy

balance is solved using the so-called force-restore method

(Noilhan and Planton, 1989):

dTs

= CT [Rn LE H ] C d (Ts Td )

dt

(11.2.5)

surface heat capacity and Cd is the diurnal periodicity (i.e. 24

hours), and Td is a deeper soil temperature. The first term

serves to force the surface temperature via the surface heat

conduction and the second term restores the surface

temperature exponentially to Td. The deep layer temperature

is computed as a low-pass filter applied to the surface

temperature (Noilhan and Planton, 1989). The surface soil

described below.

For a snow covered surface (see Chapter 6), a simple 1layer snow mass and energy balance is used. The snow mass

balance at each pixel is given by (Equation 6.4.1) in terms of

the snow water equivalent (SWE):

dSWE

= P E M

dt

(11.2.6)

evaporation/sublimation, and melt output/runo respectively.

Computational eort is saved by not simulating snow density

or depth. The surface energy balance for the snowpack is

applied using a prognostic equation for the single-layer snow

temperature (Tsnow) at each pixel:

C snow

dTsnow

= Rn LE H wLf M

dt

(11.2.7)

where Csnow is the snow-layer heat capacity (J m-2 K-1) and the

right-hand-side terms are the net radiation, latent and

sensible heat fluxes, and latent heating due to melt. Advected

energy by rain could also be included.

For simplicity, the soil surface energy balance is only

solved for prognostically when snow disappears. In doing so,

the soil surface temperature is set equal to the snow

temperature (i.e. 0C) just before the snow disappears. This is

obviously a simplification as it ignores soil dynamics under

373

complicated models can be used to solve the energy balance

across the entire snow-soil continuum and include soil freezethaw processes.

The unsaturated zone is represented by two moisture

states: the rootzone soil moisture storage (Srz) and the

unsaturated zone storage (Suz). The rootzone storage is the

near-surface reservoir that is filled by infiltration (f ; see TCA

method in Chapter 7; Section 7) and is depleted by

evapotranspiration (E ; see Chapter 8) and drainage (qdrain) to

the main unsaturated zone reservoir:

dSrz

= f E qdrain ;

dt

(11.2.8)

runo, qie. In the MOD-WET model this is done using a

simplified form of the TCA method using the precipitation

over the time step as input and the time step as the storm

duration. The loss from the lower boundary of the rootzone

is assumed to be dominated by gravity drainage and is

modeled to only occur when the rootzone storage overfills the

maximum storage capacity. Hence the drainage flux involves a

threshold process and the storage in the rootzone is always

less than or equal to the specified upper limit Srzmax (e.g. field

capacity). If the upper limit is set to a value lower than the

soil porosity, this implies that the rootzone never fully

saturates and this can have implications on infiltration excess

runo. It is also assumed that the storage cannot go below a

larger the rootzone reservoir, the more infiltration will

ultimately be partitioned into evaporation. The smaller the

reservoir or more intense the infiltration rate, the more

drainage flux there will be.

The unsaturated zone storage is fed by the rootzone

drainage flux and depleted by recharge (qv) to the underlying

groundwater system:

dSuz

= qdrain qv ;

dt

0 Suz SD

(11.2.9)

depleted by recharge or if the groundwater table rises to the

surface (i.e. SD = 0). Implicit in the latter case is the

generation of saturation excess runo, which is another

threshold process (only non-zero when the groundwater table

reaches the surface). The recharge flux is modeled as:

qv = K 0 exp(SD / m)

(11.2.10)

This drainage flux is eectively equal to the assumed

saturated conductivity at the water table (i.e. only the gravity

term is relevant) and increases with increasing surface

conductivity (and m) or decreasing saturation deficit.

The groundwater storage is depleted by the baseflow

(volumetric flow per unit width, i.e. [qb]=L2 T-1) leaving the

pixel, which is given by:

374

qb = T0 exp(SD / m)tan S

(11.2.11)

transmissivity or slope (S) and decreasing saturation deficit.

Finally, a basin average mass balance and similarity

arguments (using the topographic or soil-topographic index)

are used for the saturation deficit. The basin average

saturation deficit mass balance is given by:

d SD

dt

= Qb Qv

(11.2.12)

basin and Qb and Qv are basin-averaged baseflow and recharge

fluxes respectively. It is then assumed, using similarity

arguments, that the pixel-scale saturation deficit is a function

of the basin average deficit and the departure of the local soiltopographic index from its basin-average, i.e.:

SD = SD + m "# i $%

(11.2.13)

constant in time. What this similarity argument implicitly

states is that SD at a given pixel will go up or down with the

basin-average saturation deficit, but that the pattern within

the basin is dictated by the topographic or soil-topographic

index. Pixels with a soil-topographic index greater than the

mean will have a lower saturation deficit (i.e. convergent areas

will have a higher water table) and vice versa. Physically, the

saturation deficit should be greater than or equal to zero,

where a value of zero corresponds to the water table being at

Equation (11.2.13) indicate regions where the groundwater

table intersects the surface and therefore generate saturation

excess runo as described in more detail below.

The model described above generates runo fluxes: qie,

qse, and qb at each pixel in the domain. To generate the outlet

hydrograph, the pixel-wise runo fluxes must be moved

downstream via a so-called routing scheme (see Chapter 10,

Sections 7 and 8). A key input to the routing scheme is the

channel topology of the basin. In the MOD-WET model, we

choose to have a network that covers the entire basin as

shown in Figures 10.36 and 10.37. The connectivity of the

cells is implicit in the automated basin delineation used in the

MOD-WET function:

watershed_area_and_stream_delineation.m, which has an

output called flowdir. From that variable all upstream and

downstream nodes for each link in the network are identified.

The routing equations are applied to each link of the

network, taking into account both flow in the stream and

inflows from pixel runo. For simplicity, it is assumed that the

channel is of rectangular (prismatic) cross-section. The spatial

distribution of channel width (B) across the network is

modeled via a two-parameter power law (Takeuchi et al.,

1999):

B = Acc

(11.2.14)

a given pixel. This expression, given the specification of the

375

increase in channel width downstream. However, using the

equation does not prevent cases where (for large upstream

areas) the stream channel width could be larger than the pixel

resolution. The Manning roughness parameter for a given

pixel is given by the model (Takeuchi et al., 1999):

!

tan S

n = n0 #

# tan S

"

1/3

$

& ; S mean slope

&

%

K=

dx

ck

(11.2.17)

(11.2.15)

expression indicates that areas of higher than average slope

have higher roughness values and vice versa. Note that such

an expression does not incorporate explicit dierences as a

result of dierent landcover types.

For simplicity, the Muskingum-Cunge method (Equation

10.8.9) is used for routing as done in Takeuchi et al. (1999). In

this case there is an implied river reach connecting a given

upstream and downstream pixel. The routing of flow is

determined by the relationship:

j+1

j

Qi+1

= C 1Qij+1 +C 2Qij +C 3Qi+1

Aside from the spatial discretization of the river network

(dx) and temporal discretization (dt), the C coecients

depend on the dynamic parameters K and X. The parameter

K is given by:

(11.2.16)

upstream or downstream pixel), the j index represents the

time step and the C coecients are weighting factors that

depend on flow characteristics (Equations (10.8.6-10.8.8)). In

this formulation, upstream flows are the sum of those already

in the channel from upstream and those contributing runo

from the upstream pixel.

derivative of flow in the channel with respect to cross-sectional

area:

ck =

dQ

dA

(11.2.18)

(Equation (10.7.25)):

Q=

1

1

AR 2 3S 01 2 = A5/3P 2 3S 01 2

n

n

(11.2.19)

ck =

dQ

5 2/3 2 3 1 2

=

A P S0

dA 3n

3/5

1/2

5 " S0 %

= $ 2/3 ' Q 2/5

3 $#nP '&

(11.2.20)

estimated using a so-called 3-point average:

j

Q = (Qij+1 +Qij +Qi+1

)/3

(11.2.21)

376

since the wetted perimeter depends on depth. To make the

above formulation non-iterative, a wide channel assumption

is invoked, whereby the wetted perimeter in the Manning

equation is assumed approximately equal to the width of the

channel, i.e. (Takeuchi et al., 1999):

P = B + 2y B (for B >> y)

model will embed these processes in the model.

(11.2.22)

parameter is given by:

"

%

Q

X = 0.5 $$1

''

Bc

tan(S)dx

#

&

k

(11.2.23)

For a given time step in the model, Equations (11.2.14)(11.2.23) can be applied to each reach of the stream network

from upstream nodes all the way downstream to the basin

outlet. In some cases the flow velocity may be larger enough

that it can cover the distance between two pixels in less than

the specified time step. A dynamic time step can be used to

reduce the routing time step for such cases. The streamflow at

the basin outlet is the outlet hydrograph.

It should be reiterated that the version of the MODWET model described herein does not contain explicit

representation of vegetation. As such, it is best suited to nonvegetated basins. We would expect vegetation to modify the

processes in a variety of ways including: rainfall/snowfall

canopy interception, additional control on evapotranspiration

via stomatal resistance, attenuation of solar radiation reaching

377

S ECTION 3

Numerical Implementation

of the MOD-WET Model

The MOD-WET model defined in Section 2 needs to be

implemented numerically since analytical solutions are not

generally available. Numerical solutions are obtained by

discretizing the equations in space and time. Here the spatial

discretization is chosen to coincide with the underlying DEM

or other spatially-distributed fields that are necessary inputs

for the model. So, for example, a typical spatial discretization

may be on the order of 30 m x 30 m using readily available

DEMs. Alternatively, the DEMs may be coarsened to a lower

resolution to reduce computational expense. The time

discretization is done via a time step dt. The choice of the

time step is generally governed by the dynamics of the system.

To resolve the surface energy balance, a time step of less than

an hour may be necessary, while for more slowly varying

dynamics a time step as large as a day may be acceptable.

For numerical implementation, the above equations are

posed by representing all storage (or deficit) states in terms of

equivalent depth of water and the energy state at the surface

is represented by surface temperature (either snow or soil). In

the discretization used below, the indices i and t are used to

represent spatial and temporal dependence respectively. In the

solution of all dierential equations, an explicit forward finite

dierence scheme is used for computational eciency. This is

state equations which allows one to avoid using for loops in

MATLAB, which can be a very expensive proposition. It

should be noted that this introduces the possibility of

numerical accuracy and stability issues. For stability, a short

duration (15 min) time step is used. As mentioned above, for

additional computational eciency, the model solves a single

surface energy balance model at each pixel, either for snow or

soil, depending on the surface conditions. The surface

condition is tracked via an evolving snow mask.

For non-snow-covered pixels the discretized surface

energy balance is given by (based on Equation 11.2.5):

Ts (i,t + 1) = Ts (i,t) +

(11.3.1)

For snow-covered pixels the discretized single-layer snow

mass balance and snow surface energy balances are given by

(based on Equation 11.2.6):

(11.3.2)

dt

[R (i,t) LE(i,t) H(i,t) wLf M(i,t)]

C snow n

(11.3.3)

378

in surface and subsurface mass balance equations. The way

these are handled below is through the usage of intermediate

calculations which are then checked to satisfy thresholds and

bounds. All intermediate variables (i.e. before being finalized

at the end of the time step) are denoted using a primed

superscript. Equation (11.2.8) can be written by first

computing an intermediate storage amount assuming there

was no drainage:

(11.3.4)

(11.3.5)

(11.3.6)

([f ]=L T-1), E(i,t) is the evapotranspiration from the rootzone

([E ]=L T-1), both of which are multiplied by the time step to

get the equivalent depth change due to the fluxes during that

time step, and qdrain is the equivalent drainage flux over the

time step (i.e. [qdrain ]=L). Writing the discretized version of

Equation (11.2.8) in this way takes into account the threshold

nature of the drainage flux and ensures that the rootzone

storage is always maintained within the correct lower and

upper bounds.

Equation (11.2.9) can be discretized in a similar way to

model the unsaturated zone storage evolution by first

computing an intermediate storage amount augmented by the

(11.3.7)

(11.3.8)

(11.3.9)

there is insucient storage to supply the full flux amount.

Equation (11.3.9) is still labeled as an intermediate state since

this neglects the possibility of saturation excess overland flow.

Physically, the upper bound is the saturation deficit (SD(i,t)).

Saturation excess runo is generated when the unsaturated

zone fills up beyond the local storage deficit. This amount of

flux can be written as:

(11.3.10)

first term on the right-hand-side will only be positive when

the predicted unsaturated zone storage exceeds the saturation

deficit. Otherwise, the saturation excess overland flow will be

zero. When there is saturation excess runo it needs to be

extracted from the unsaturated zone storage term, which can

be updated via:

(11.3.11)

function of the local saturation deficit and other parameters

379

as given by:

(11.3.12)

unit width (of stream or hillslope). Further, the basin-average

recharge flux Qv (with dimension [Qv] =L) used in Equation

(11.2.12) is given by:

1

Qv (t) =

N

q (i,t)

i=1

(11.3.13)

baseflow flux used in Equation (11.2.12) is then computed via:

dt 1

Qb (t) =

Lx N

q (i,t)

i=1

(11.3.14)

set of discretized equations, Equation (11.2.12) is used to

update the basin-averaged saturation deficit and the pixelwise saturation deficit is then given by:

SD !(i,t + 1) = SD (t + 1) + m #$ (i)%&

(11.3.15)

where

!

$

a(i)

(i) = ln #

&

T

(i)tan

S(i)

" 0

%

(11.3.16)

!

$

$

a(i)

1 N !

a(i)

= ln #

& = ln #

&dA(i) (11.3.17)

T

(i)tan

S(i)

A

T

(i)tan

S(i)

" 0

%

" 0

%

i=1

denoted in Equation (11.3.15) since there is no constraint on

non-physical values in its application.

Final updates to several variables revolve around

removing negative storage deficits that would be associated

with saturation excess flow via:

"

$ q ! (i,t) + SD !(i,t + 1) , SD !(i,t + 1) < 0

q se (i,t) = # se

q se! (i,t),

otherwise

$%

(11.3.18)

saturation deficit should be zero, which can be maintained

via:

"$ 0, SD !(i,t + 1) < 0

SD(i,t + 1) = #

(11.3.19)

$% SD !(i,t + 1), otherwise

This will keep the deficit to a minimum value of zero if

Equation (11.3.15) yields a negative value. The unsaturated

zone storage is set to zero where the saturation deficit is zero:

Suz (i,t + 1) = #

$% Suz! (i,t + 1), otherwise

(11.3.20)

maintain the basin-wide soil moisture budget. Given a state

estimate at the beginning of a time step, the state estimate at

the end of the time step is determined using the equations

shown above. All fluxes are representative of the flux over the

time step.

380

Initialization of the model can be done by specifying an

initial condition of the basin-averaged saturation deficit and

then applying Equation (11.3.15). Other initial states that

need to be specified include the rootzone and unsaturated

zone storage values. A summary of the states and parameters

(in addition to the DEM and meteorological inputs) that need

to be specified for this numerical implementation of the model

are shown below in Table 11.1. Many other parmeters must

also be specified. In the default implementation of the model,

the soil parameters (roughness, hydraulic, thermal, and

VARIABLE

SD(t 0 )

Suz (i,t 0 )

Srz (i,t 0 )

Srz max

Srz min

T0

(roughness, emissivity, etc.) are the same throughout the

basin, but they could be made variable. As such, the primary

spatial variability comes in the form of topography which

directly impacts i) the redistribution of water via Equation

(11.3.15) and the routing of flow and ii) the meteorological

forcings including (among others) air temperature, which is

disaggregated via a lapse rate, shortwave radiation which

depends on elevation, slope, and aspect, surface precipitation

and phase (i.e. rain vs. snow), which depends on air

temperature.

The numerical implementation of the model is done

using a MATLAB model driver function called

MOD_WET_model_driver that is primarily used to: 1) call

various functions to initialize the model and load input files,

2) call MOD-WET functions from within a time-stepping loop

for solving mass and energy budget equations, and 3) to

collect and save outputs. The model has been tested on

several basins and should run fine provided you specify the

correct path to the MOD-WET and to the necessary input

files. The primary model function that the user must modify

is called MOD_WET_model_static_and_control_parameters

which contains the model control parameters (i.e. time step,

number of days to simulate, etc.), pointers to input filenames,

and physical parameters, including those listed in Table 11.1.

The necessary variables and their units are described in the

code. The set of parameters are stored in two structured

arrays: control_params and params to ease the passing of

variables. The files that need to be provided to the model are

381

outputs from the watershed_area_and_stream_delineation

function that must be applied as a pre-processing step) and

the meteorological inputs (which are assumed to come from a

single gage at a specified elevation within or near the basin).

The meteorological data must be at the appropriate time step

specified in the inputs file and is assumed to start at the

beginning of the water year on the Universal Time Coordinate

(UTC; or Greenwich Mean Time), i.e. at UTC 0:00 on

October 1st. Beyond the creation of these input files and the

editing of MOD_WET_model_static_and_control_parameters,

no other functions should need to be modified to run the

model.

Within the MOD_WET_model_driver function, maps of

model states and parameters and pre-allocation of variables

are initialized via the initialize_model function. The time

stepping loop updates state variables at each time step. Doing

so involves several functions including those that sequentially:

distribute the meteorological station data

(distribute_met_forcings), apply snow model physics

(snow_model) and soil energy balance physics

(soil_SEB_solver_prognostic), estimate infiltration and

infiltration excess runo using the time-compression

approximation (TCA_infiltration), estimate subsurface

processes and saturation excess runo and baseflow using the

TOPMODEL framework (TOPMODEL), and finally routing of

the runo downstream using the Muskingum-Cunge method

(routing_muskingum_cunge). The full set of functions

estimate all state variables at the end of each time step and

the fluxes that occurred over the time step. Finally, the raw

data is averaged or saved at the specified temporal resolution.

Outputs are stored in structured arrays based on variable

type, i.e.: state_maps, flux_maps, and time_series, where

each contains the key variables and the units of each.

The MOD-WET model is constructed in an attempt to

run reasonably eciently, but also in a way that makes for

easy student learning. The forward finite dierence

formulations for the energy mass/budgets are simple to

understand and allows for vectorization of the calculations.

This simply means that the change in any model state (e.g.

temperature) over the course of one time step can be

computed simultaneously for all pixels across the domain.

Alternatively, one could loop over pixels in the domain, but

loops tend to be very slow relative to vectorized calculations

and hence this saves a significant amount of time. The

primary drawback of these simple finite dierence schemes is

the need for a small time step (e.g. 15 min.), which tends to

be most necessary for the surface energy budget calculations.

More sophisticated finite dierence schemes (implicit/

iterative) may be more stable and therefore allow a larger

time step, but are generally less straightforward to vectorize.

The primary computational (CPU) expense is proportional to

the number of pixels being simulated (i.e. size of domain and

resolution of DEM) and the length of the simulation (number

of time steps required). Hence, short-duration simulations

with a small domain at coarse resolution will take the least

amount of CPU time. Long-duration simulations over a large

domain at high resolution will take the most CPU time. The

382

mapped arrays, which is therefore proportional to the size of

the domain and resolution of the DEM. The user can control

how often to output mapped results to control RAM

requirements. When designing simulations it is up to the user

to consider these control parameters to meet the practical (i.e.

computational) and instructional requirements.

383

S ECTION 4

Example MOD-WET

Model Applications

The model developed in the last two sections is done

generally so that it can be applied to basins of varying sizes

and characteristics. The key inputs to the model include a

DEM, soil parameters, meteorological data, etc. Here a simple

toy basin is used for qualitative demonstration of the model.

Figures 11.3 and 11.4 shows the DEM for the toy basin.

Geographically, its location (i.e. easting/northing coordinates)

F IGURE 11.4 Surface plot of the toy basin DEM showing the

varying slopes along the valley hillslope cross-section.

Sierra Nevada in California (U.S.A.).

The basin consists of a simple geometry with a

symmetric valley that has a stream that runs from East to

West with a specified bed slope. The hillslopes of the valley

have dierent slopes: a shallower slope in the lower part of the

valley (i.e. a flood-plain) with a steeper slope up to the ridge

lines. The basin outlet has an elevation around 3000 m with

the highest ridge line ranging up to 3050 m. The toy basin

configuration is chosen in order to highlight some of the key

points made earlier in the book including variability in

radiation, snowmelt, runo contributing areas, etc. Figure

11.5 shows the computed slope and aspect maps for the basin.

384

with slopes on the hillsides ranging from 10-20 degrees. The

aspect map is quite simple with the pixels on the northern

slope eectively facing due south (i.e. 180 degrees) and the

southern slope eectively facing due north (i.e. 360 degrees).

These patterns will play a key role in explaining some of the

variability in hydrologic variables described below. The valley

floor and ridges have an aspect facing due West (i.e. 270

degrees) due to their shallow east-to-west slopes.

Based on the simple DEM, the topographic index

(Equation (11.2.1)) can be defined for the toy basin and is

shown in Figure 11.6. Based on the regular topography, the

maps for the toy basin.

F IGURE 11.6 Map of the topographic index for the toy basin.

385

values along the ridge lines, monotonically increasing down

the hillslopes with largest values in the valley floor where the

stream pixels are expected to be located. The largest value is

at the basin outlet which by definition has the whole basin as

a contributing area.

Numerical experiments can be done to illustrate behavior

of the modeled system. Aside from the DEM, the other model

parameters used in all simulations described below are shown

in the test cases included in the MOD-WET package. First,

results are shown from a drainage experiment where the water

over a 300 day simulation.

(i.e. SD(i,t0)=0) and the groundwater is allowed to drain via

baseflow. Such an experiment provides insight into the

equilibrium state the groundwater system would approach

under the case of no precipitation/infiltration/evaporation.

Figure 11.7 shows the distribution of the saturation deficit

over time through a north-south cross-section through the

middle of the basin. At the beginning of the simulation the

saturation deficit is zero throughout the cross-section.

Baseflow is largest at the beginning of the simulation causing

rapid drainage with predictable spatial patterns. Near the

stream channel in the middle of the basin, the saturation

deficit is smallest, while it is highest at the top of the

hillslopes. For the set of parameters used, after 300 days of

simulation the saturation deficit has dropped by about 0.15 m

at the stream channel and about 0.4 m at the top of the

hillslope. Over time the saturation deficit will continue to

drop, but more slowly as the baseflow is reduced.

Figure 11.8 shows the saturation deficit map at the end

of 300 days. The distribution shows the largest mode of

variability in the north-south direction, with additional

variability in the east-west direction along the stream channel.

As expected, the distribution of SD is highly correlated with

the soil-topographic index (Figure 11.6) via the application of

Equation (11.3.15). The pattern in saturation deficit provides

insight into the likely areas of saturation excess runo; namely

areas of shallow groundwater are most likely to generate

saturation excess runo during a storm that is large enough to

raise the groundwater table to the surface.

386

F IGURE 11.8 Saturation deficit map (in meters) over the toy

basin domain after 300 days of drainage.

A second experiment which is illustrated in this section

is a full-year simulation over the basin using realistic

meteorological forcing data. Figure 11.9 shows the dailyaveraged precipitation, incoming shortwave radiation, and air

temperature over a water year (WY; i.e. October 1st September 30th) corresponding to a meteorological station at

an elevation of 3300 m. It should be reiterated that the model

is run at a 15-minute time step to provide a stable solution for

the surface energy balance. The data is representative of the

Southern Sierra Nevada climate, showing the majority of

variables for full year simulation: precipitation (top panel), incoming shortwave radiation (middle panel), air temperature

(bottom panel). These forcing variables from a gage at a specified elevation and distributed spatially using topography.

387

occurs as snow, and a strong seasonal cycle in incoming

shortwave radiation and air temperature. The model takes the

station data and distributes it across the basin using

disaggregation functions (introduced in earlier chapters) that

depend on topographic characteristics. For example, lower

elevations will receive higher air temperatures and north-

surface temperature (top panel) and SWE (bottom panel).

radiation relative to higher elevations or south-facing slopes.

Basin-averaged results from the model are presented in

Figures 11.10-11.13. Figure 11.10 shows the daily-averaged

surface temperature and SWE over the annual cycle. Basinaveraged surface temperature decreases during the early

stages in concert with the decreasing energy input (i.e. Figure

11.9, middle panel) and reaches and stays below freezing

around 60 days after the beginning of the WY (i.e. around

December 1st). Snow begins to accumulate shortly thereafter.

Recall that the surface temperature represents soil

temperature when snow-free and corresponds to the snow

surface temperature otherwise. SWE increases until around

200 days after the beginning of the simulation and peaks at

about 0.6 m. Around the same time, the surface temperature

increases back to freezing which corresponds to the beginning

of snowmelt, where the snowmelt season lasts approximately

60 days. Once snow melts, surface temperature increases

rapidly.

Figure 11.11 (top panel) shows the daily-averaged

rootzone storage and saturation deficit. The rootzone storage

increases during the early part of the simulation in response

to rain events and decreases due to evaporation. The rootzone

storage reaches its capacity (approximately 0.05 m) around

the time that snow begins to accumulate. During that period,

there is no depletion of the rootzone moisture via soil

evaporation (i.e. all surface vapor loss is from snow

sublimation). So any infiltration due to snowmelt during that

period will quickly drain to the unsaturated zone keeping the

388

Figure 11.12 shows the daily-averaged surface energy

fluxes. Net radiation shows a decreasing trend early in the

simulation in response to decreasing incident shortwave

radiation and air temperature (which reduces incoming

longwave radiation) as shown in Figure 11.9. It is relatively

low during the snow season and then increases during the

summer. The daily-averaged sensible heat flux is generally

positive during the summer when the surface is warmer than

the overlying air and is generally negative when the surface is

rootzone storage (top panel) and saturation deficit (bottom

panel).

disappear from some pixels, the rootzone storage is depleted

due to increased summer-time evaporation. The saturation

deficit (Figure 11.11, bottom panel) decreases intermittently

in response to recharge events. During such periods, some

pixels may saturate from below and yield saturation excess

runo. In between such events, saturation deficit increases due

to baseflow losses.

net radiation, latent and sensible heat fluxes.

389

Figure 11.13 shows the daily-averaged runo terms

from the simulation. Saturation excess runo is shown to be

the largest contributor to runo for this basin and model

inputs. In fact, the infiltration excess runo is zero throughout

the simulation. This is because the specified saturated

hydraulic conductivity for the basin is larger than the

precipitation (or melt) rate experienced throughout the

simulation. Most of the saturation excess runo is in response

to intermittent melt events during the snow accumulation

season as well as to the sustained melt during Days 200-275 of

the Water Year.

saturation and infiltration excess runoff (top panel) and baseflow (bottom panel).

flux is generally highest during summer and/or when rootzone

soil moisture is high. The latent heat flux is directly tied to

the moisture flux at the surface. When the surface is snowfree, the associated evaporation depletes the rootzone soil

moisture, while during the snow season it represents the

sublimation from the snowpack.

F IGURE 11.14 SWE map (in meters) over the toy basin domain on Day 260 of the Water Year.

390

all pixels in the basin (i.e. state/flux maps) throughout the

year. Example results are shown for SWE in Figure 11.14.

This state is chosen because, even for the simple toy basin

configuration, SWE is expected to show spatial variability.

Specifically, snowmelt should happen more quickly on south

facing slopes. Figure 11.14 shows the SWE map toward the

end of the melt season. From the figure it is clear that snow

has completely melted on the south-facing hillslope, while

snow is persistent on the north-facing hill slope. The

remaining SWE is also larger in the pixels with larger slopes,

which provides further reduction in incident shortwave

radiation due to local shading. To see the full range of

the whole year-long simulation in Movie 11.1. Keep in mind

that the precipitation is uniform over the basin so that

variability in SWE is either the result of precipitation being

classified dierently as snow vs. rain (only a function of

elevation-induced temperature dierences) or dierential melt.

The animation shows no SWE until around day of water year

(DOWY) 80 (mid-December). Around the time of peak basinaveraged SWE there is a distinct dierence between the northand south-facing slopes. The south-facing slopes have lower

SWE due to intermittent melt events during accumulation as

a result of increased radiative heating on those pixels. As

indicated in Figure 11.14, all of the snow has melted on the

M OVIE 11.1 Animation of daily-average SWE (in meters) over

over the toy basin domain on Day 260 of the Water Year.

the toy basin for each day of the Water Year (DOWY).

391

the north-facing slopes for a couple more weeks.

Figure 11.15 shows a similar example map of the

rootzone soil moisture storage on the same day as the SWE

map in Figure 11.14. The rootzone storage on the north-facing

hillslope is at its maximum value since the intermittent melt

water has replenished the rootzone and the snow cover is

preventing soil evaporation. For the pixels on the south-facing

slope, the rootzone storage is reduced since the melt flux is

zero and evaporation is depleting the near-surface storage

reservoir. The full range of seasonal dynamics in rootzone soil

M OVIE 11.2 Animation of daily-average rootzone soil moisture (in meters) over the toy basin for each day of the Water

Year (DOWY).

the same over the whole basin, the north-facing slope

generally has a higher soil moisture prior to snow

accumulation (less radiative forcing and therefore less

evaporation). After snow cover persists (and there is some

intermittent melt), the rootzone storage fills up and is uniform

across the basin since no evaporation takes place from the soil

while snow is on the ground (any additional melt overflows

the rootzone into the unsaturated zone). It remains uniformly

distributed until the snow disappears and soil evaporation

begins. Since snow disappears from the south-facing hillslope

first, the rootzone soil moisture decreases on that portion of

the basin (around DOWY 260).

F IGURE 11.16 Saturation deficit map (in meters) over the toy

basin domain on Day 260 of the Water Year.

392

over the toy basin domain on Day 260 of the Water Year.

Figures 11.16 and 11.17 show the saturation deficit and

saturation excess runo maps on the same day as discussed

above. The SD map (Figure 11.16) shows that only the stream

channel pixels nearest the basin outlet are saturated at this

time. As expected, the saturation excess runo map (Figure

11.17) shows that only those pixels contribute runo on this

day in the model simulation. The area contributing to runo

is expected to expand and contract based on infiltration/

recharge dynamics over the course of a simulation. The

dynamics of the water table (saturation deficit) are shown in

Movie 11.3, which shows that SD is consistently smallest in

the main stream channel and nearest zero closest to the

meters) over the toy basin for each day of the Water Year

(DOWY).

between the drainage and baseflow fluxes (Equation

(11.2.12)). The bulk changes in SD are then distributed to the

individual pixels using the soil-topographic index via Equation

(11.2.13). As such, the pixels with highest soil-topographic

index tend to have lower SD values. This can lead to a water

table that intersects the surface and generates saturation

excess runo. In this case, it happens exclusively in the

handful of pixels upstream of the basin outlet. The full

seasonal dynamics are shown in Movie 11.4. In many instances

393

M OVIE 11.4 Animation of daily-average saturation excess runoff (in m3/h) over the toy basin for each day of water year

(DOWY).

these pixels.

The set of results presented so far were intentionally

chosen for a synthetic basin to provide simple results for easy

interpretation. To provide an example for a more realistic case

we present analogous results for a real basin. Figure 11.18

shows a 90-m resolution DEM for the Tokopah watershed

located in the Southern Sierra Nevada (Sequoia National

Park) in California. The basin is primarily above tree-line and

has an area of 19 km2. For illustration, a simulation was

performed for Tokopah using the same meteorological forcing

parameters used in the toy basin simulation. The processes

and mechanisms are therefore expected to be similar in nature

to the toy basin example, so they are not explained in great

detail. The results are provided mainly to show more realistic

patterns in hydrologic response. The model was not

calibrated, but is used here solely for illustration.

The precipitation is applied uniformly over the basin and

is equivalent to that shown in Figure 11.9. As a result of the

seasonality of the precipitation and the high-elevation, it is

394

primary forcing is net radiation, which is illustrated over the

entire WY in Movie 11.5. Aside from the expected seasonal

variability and clouds, both of which are likely to have more

or less uniform impact on this small basin, there is significant

variability in the net radiation. This is primarily due to the

slope and aspect distribution throughout the basin, which

along with shading, directly impacts the incident shortwave

radiation.

Animations of the key model water budget states (SD,

SWE, and Srz) are shown in Movies 11.6-11.8. The saturation

deficit (Movie 11.6) is controlled primarily by the topographicsoil index, with low values in the stream channels and higher

values on the hillslopes. The dynamics are controlled by

drainage and baseflow, which for Tokopah is mainly driven by

snowmelt. The SWE field (Movie 11.7) is zero until around

DOWY 60 when it first starts to accumulate at high

elevations. Note that lower elevations are receiving

precipitation as well, but it is being classified as rainfall rather

than snowfall due to temperature. Near the peak of snow

accumulation, the SWE varies across the basin from

approximately 15 to 80 cm. During snow melt, the SWE

recedes from low to high elevation. By DOWY 300, the snow

has disappeared completely from the basin. The rootzone soil

moisture (Movie 11.8) is depleted by evaporation early in the

simulation prior to snowcover. During early snowcover,

intermittent rainfall/snowmelt fills the rootzone reservoir

where it remains full over most of the domain until snow

disappears and evaporation begins to again deplete the

395

by the impact of radiation patterns on evaporation.

The runo from Tokopah is primarily snowmelt driven.

For the precipitation and/or snowmelt rates and soil

parameters used, infiltration excess runo is zero throughout

the simulation. The saturation excess runo is shown in Movie

11.9. The results show that the saturation excess runo is zero

over most of the domain and is intermittently non-zero early

in the WY around the main channel during intermittent

rainfall/snowmelt events. The saturation excess runo is most

persistent in this same region during snowmelt. Note that

much of this predicted runo is exfiltration resulting from

upstream snowmelt infiltration that raises the water table.

The fact that most of the runo is the result of saturation

396

heavily on previously presented MOD-WET codes and is

designed generally so that it could be used for more complex

basins. Sensitivity of hydrograph response to basin

characteristics is illustrated in the next section.

combination with the rainfall/snowmelt rates. This is

discussed in more detail in the next section. The outlet

hydrograph for Tokopah is shown in Figure 11.19. This shows

several events early in the season (i.e. around DOWY 60, 100,

150), due to intermittent rainfall/melt events during the main

accumulation season. The bulk of the hydrograph is shown to

occur in the Spring when the primary snowmelt season occurs

before returning to near-zero baseflow late in the WY.

The results presented in this section are meant to be

illustrative of the types of simulations that can be done with

397

S ECTION 5

Sensitivity of Hydrograph

Response to Watershed

Characteristics

This section uses the MOD-WET model to illustrate how

hydrologic response (in terms of the runo hydrograph at the

outlet) is impacted by various basin characteristics. As a

starting point, the toy basin used in Section 4 is chosen as a

baseline (nominal) watershed (Figure 11.20; upper left

panel). The basin is a simple rectangular shape with the main

stream channel moving from east to west with the outlet at

the far left (west) center of the domain. The nominal domain

is 15 x 10 pixels on a DEM of 30 m resolution so that the

nominal basin area is 0.135 km2. The flow patterns are

therefore relatively straightforward with hillslope flow

primarily in the north-south direction and main stream

channel flow in the east-to-west direction. To assess the

impact of shape and size, three other basins are synthesized.

The longer basin (Figure 11.20; upper right panel) is the

same width as the nominal, but is four times longer (basin

area of 0.54 km2). The wider basin (Figure 11.20; lower left

panel) is the same length as the nominal, but is four times

wider (basin area of 0.54 km2). The larger basin (Figure

11.20; lower right panel) is both four times longer and wider

than the nominal (basin area of 2.16 km2).

let) of simple synthetic rectangular watersheds: nominal (upper left), longer (upper right), wider (lower left), and

larger (lower right). The outlet of each basin is at the far left/

center of each rectangular domain. White areas are outside of

each basin and all basins are plotted using the same horizontal

scale.

For simplicity, results from a Hortonian or infiltration

excess runo (Chapter 10, Section 3) event (occurring

uniformly over the basin) are used for illustration. Such events

provide a much more straightforward way to gain insight into

the sensitivity of the runo hydrograph to basin

398

contributing flow. In the case of events dominated by

saturation excess runo (e.g. the results shown in Section 4),

the contributing streamflow generation areas are often isolated

to small regions around the main channel (Figure 11.17).

Hence, in such cases the size, shape, slope, roughness, etc. of

the basin may have limited or unexpected impact on the

runo hydrograph. One should be careful to note however

that, generally speaking, saturation excess runo is generally

more common and hence runo response is a complicated

function of both basin characteristics and climatology.

For infiltration excess runo to occur, soils generally

need to have very low saturated conductivity and/or

precipitation events need to be very intense (i.e. P >> Ks). To

construct such a scenario, the soil surface transmissivity

parameter (T0) was reduced significantly from that used in the

previous section (where the new value of Ks was set equal to

0.03 mm/h) and a single storm event of constant intensity of 3

mm/h was used. The storm event started six hours after the

beginning of the simulation and lasted for six hours (Figure

11.21). Additionally the saturation deficit (proportional to

average depth to water table) was increased such that all

stormflow runo was the result of infiltration excess runo.

The expected flow paths can be conceptualized as follows:

Each cross-section in the north-south direction consists of the

two hillslopes flowing to the main stream channel. One can

think of the hillslope cross-section as a unit that quickly

contributes flow to the stream and then flow will be translated

downstream. Hence the hillslopes near the outlet will quickly

shapes and sizes shown in Figure 11.20.

have a delayed contribution.

The nominal basin outlet hydrograph is shown in Figure

11.21 (black line). The streamflow hydrograph increases

almost immediately after the start of the storm and peaks

with a flow of approximately 0.005 m3/s before the end of the

storm. The hydrograph is relatively constant for a few hours

before receding and returning to near-zero baseflow by

approximately six hours after the end of the storm. The

399

11.21.

Generally speaking, as the size of the watershed increases

it is expected that the integrated runo (i.e. area under the

curve) and the peak flow will increase. The time to peak and

shape of the hydrograph will depend on other basin

characteristics. For the wider basin (Figure 11.21; blue line),

the primary dierence is expected to be an increased area of

hillslope contributing flow to each unit of the main stream

reach. Hence the overall response time (from beginning to end

of runo response) between the wider and nominal basins are

very similar (since the basin length is the same). The peak

however is between 5 and 6 times that of the nominal case

and the flow peaks later, near the end of the storm. The

longer basin is the same area as the wider basin, but the

hydrograph shape (Figure 11.21; cyan line) diers

significantly. The longer basin hydrograph has a peak that is

about 2 times larger than the nominal, but peaks later,

plateaus for several hours and has a time base that is about

twice as long as the nominal and wider basin hydrographs.

The longer time base is simply a result of the larger travel

times associated with the longer basin. Finally, the larger

basin has a much larger peak that is shifted later in time

relative to the nominal (Figure 11.21; magenta line). The time

base for the larger basin is very similar to that of the longer

basin, illustrating that the length of the basin primarily

controls the overall duration of the stormflow response.

To illustrate how other basin characteristics impact

stormflow response, bed slope of the main channel and basin

and one involving a shallower bed slope for the main channel

and one with lower Manning roughness coefficient. The larger

basin case used here as a baseline is identical to that shown in

Figure 11.21.

basin-averaged Manning roughness coecient was reduced

from 0.045 to 0.035 (less rough) and the bed slope of the

main channel was reduced by two orders of magnitude from

0.01 to 0.0001 (shallow bed) are shown in Figure 11.22. The

larger basin case was used for all three simulations since it

more easily illustrates dierences. For the case of a shallower

400

streamflow velocities will be smaller. As a result the peak flow

is reduced (by about 14%) and the flows are attenuated, with

low flows persisting beyond 1.5 days after the start of the

simulation. Note that this case did not change the slope of the

hillslope pixels (only the main stream channel) and hence flow

still makes its way to the channel at a comparable speed to

that of the baseline case. However once water is in the channel

it takes longer to reach the outlet. A reduction in the hillslope

gradients would be expected to further reduce the peak and

attenuate the hydrograph. For the case of a basin with

reduced roughness (Figure 11.22; blue line), the opposite

behavior is seen. The reduced roughness (which is applied over

the whole basin) speeds up flow in general. As such, the peak

is significantly increased (by about 25%).

The cases shown in this section are meant to be

illustrative and drive home some of the points from earlier in

the book in the context of model simulations. As stated

above, more realistic basins, with a dierent (or a mixture) of

runo generation mechanisms will generally have more

complicated responses to perturbations. Nevertheless a basic

understanding of how static parameters may control response

is useful. The reader is encouraged to use the MOD-WET

model to investigate basins of interest (real or synthetic) and

explore sensitivities and hypothesis tests to determine how

hydrologic response is impacted by climatology, basin

morphology, and natural or anthropogenic changes to static or

dynamic inputs.

401

S ECTION 6

MOD-WET Codes

Relevant new functions based on concepts introduced in this chapter include:

Distributed model driver function:

MOD_WET_model_driver.m

Specification of model input parameters:

MOD_WET_model_static_and_control_parameters.m

Initialization of model states and distributed parameters:

initialize_model.m

Topographic index:

topo_index.m

based on contributing area and a power law:

channel_width.m

Wrapper to control the routing scheme:

routing_muskingum_cunge.m

Muskingum-Cunge routing scheme:

muskingum_cunge.m

Routing velocity check and adjustment of time step:

routing_celerity_check.m

Basin-averaged mass balance check at each time step:

mass_balance_check.m

Function to generate animations of mapped outputs from

a MOD-WET model simulation:

create_model_output_maps.m

Topographic-soil index:

topo_soil_index.m

TOPMODEL wrapper for evolving subsurface states and

fluxes:

TOPMODEL.m

Construction of flow network:

flow_network.m

402

S ECTION 7

Conceptual Questions

1. Provide a basic description of the topographic index and

what it represents in the TOPMODEL framework.

2. In the TOPMODEL framework, what is typically assumed

about the saturated soil hydraulic conductivity as a

function of depth?

3. In the TOPMODEL framework, what must the value of

saturation deficit (SD) be at a given pixel for it to generate

saturation excess runo?

4. In the TOPMODEL framework, what variables control the

baseflow from a given pixel?

5. Describe the meaning of the wide channel approximation

and why it is typically invoked?

6. What static channel parameters and dynamic model

variables are needed in the Muskingum-Cunge routing

equations?

403

S ECTION 8

Sample Problems

periods outside of the calibration period.

MOD-WET, setup a model simulation. Run the simulation

over a full water year and explore the results (i.e. time series,

state maps, flux maps, etc.). Does the basin generate runo

primarily from saturation excess or infiltration excess

mechanisms?

Problem 11.2. Using your model constructed for Problem

11.1, perturb various static model parameters and explore

how basin runo and other variables change as a result. Use

the simulations to test your understanding and/or hypotheses

about hydrologic response to static basin characteristics.

Problem 11.3. Using your model constructed for Problem

11.1, perturb precipitation, air temperature, or other

meteorological variables to assess how hydrologic response

changes as a result of dynamic forcing inputs. To what extent

does precipitation have to increase to generate more

infiltration excess runo? In the case that your nominal

simulation generated snow accumulation, how does a change

in air temperature impact the snowmelt and resulting

hydrograph?

Problem 11.4. Use real data to construct a watershed model

for a basin of interest. Explore model calibration as a means

for fitting model predictions to measured runo. Explore how

404

Chapter 12

MATLAB

Basics

It is generally assumed that the reader has had a course

in basic MATLAB or another programming language. The idea

of this section is not to provide a full primer or reference, but

highlight some key points to help in using MOD-WET

functions and provide pointers to more general references.

First, it should be noted that MATLAB is capable of much

more than covered here, has an extremely useful built-in help

system, and Mathworks provides their own rather extensive

primer for beginners located at: http://www.mathworks.com/

help/pdf_doc/matlab/getstart.pdf. You should consult these

resources and keep them handy for reference. There are also

many textbooks designed to provide more thorough

introductions to MATLAB (e.g. Chapman, 2007; Pratap, 2009).

The best way to find a solution to a problem you have is to

find an example of how such things are done via the help

command, using the primer, or other online resources. You

should also be aware that none of the applications used in this

book need to be solved using MATLAB, it is simply chosen as a

numerical tool since it is readily available and is relatively

easy to learn.

simply text files containing instructions that are stored

somewhere on the MATLAB search path. The search path is a

list of directories to look through for a specified m-file. For

example, when taking the average of a vector a, i.e. mean(a),

MATLAB looks through the specified path for the file mean.m

and provides it the vector a as an input and returns the mean

as an output, as obtained via the set of instructions to

perform supplied in the mean.m file. For all of the built-in

MATLAB functions and their associated toolboxes, the path to

those functions are loaded by default. Additionally, the

current directory you are working in is always on the path and

is the directory that is searched first. Hence in calling a

function, unless new directories are added to the path, the

function must exist either in the current directory or on the

default MATLAB path. It is useful to keep this in mind because

as you develop your own m-files or use those developed by

others, you will need to add the location of those functions to

your path. Along these lines it is useful to keep your functions

in an organized location that can be added easily to the path.

In its simplest form, MATLAB can be used as a calculator

to perform basic arithmetic operations on values stored in

variables, vectors, or multi-dimensional arrays. As a first step,

you need to be comfortable with how variables are stored in

arrays, array operations, indexing in arrays, etc. (see the

Language Fundamentals chapter in the MATLAB primer).

The idea of specifying a search path is particularly important when using the MOD-WET functions. Paths can be

manually added to MATLAB, but the approach described below automates this process with a simple line that you can

add to your own code. MOD-WET has several subdirectories.

Assume that you have the following directory structure:

Intrinsic in MATLAB are many built-in functions that

perform more complicated operations built-up from simpler

/Users/username/CEE150/MOD_WET/chapter1

/Users/username/CEE150/MOD_WET/chapter2

/Users/username/CEE150/MOD_WET/chapter3

406

/Users/username/CEE150/MOD_WET/chapter5

/Users/username/CEE150/MOD_WET/chapter6

/Users/username/CEE150/MOD_WET/chapter7

/Users/username/CEE150/MOD_WET/chapter8

/Users/username/CEE150/MOD_WET/chapter11

the directories listed above. To add all subdirectories within a

specified directory to the search path one could type:

addpath(genpath('/Users/username/CEE150/ ...

MOD_WET')).

access all functions in the MOD-WET (i.e. Chapters 1 11),

since directories chapter1 chapter11 are all contained in

the MOD_WET parent directory. Adding the path to the MODWET directory or your other functions at the top of all of

your own scripts should help you avoid any problems with

MATLABs search path. The use of the genpath command is

highly recommended because you will not have to remember

which toolbox function is associated with a specific chapter or

directory.

MATLAB scripts vs. functions

In performing any analysis, it is usually required to make

use of multiple commands which can be tailored to the desired

task/s. This typically involves usage of basic programming

written in the form of scripts or functions (see the

Programming chapter in the MATLAB primer), which allow

for repeated usage and to fully document the process. Both

scripts and functions are written as m-files, with the

the beginning of the file.

Scripts operate as if the commands in the file were being

typed into the command window. As such it does not have

inputs or outputs but operates on variables that either

already exist in the workspace or are created within the

script. At the end of the script, variables that were created

within it are defined in the workspace. Functions can be called

from within scripts.

Functions dier from scripts in an important way;

namely they require inputs and send back outputs. In the case

of functions, all variables are local to the function and are not

explicitly saved in the workspace when complete -- only

inputs/outputs will exist in the workspace after a function

call. A function m-file begins with a function definition line

(without this line you would have a regular script m-file), i.e.:

function [OUTPUT] = function_name (INPUT)

OUTPUT is a variable sent back from the function, and

function_name is the name of the function. While not

required, function_name is most often also used in the

filename, i.e. function_name.m. Both the inputs and outputs

can consist of multiple variables.

The primary reason for using functions over scripts is

that they are inherently modular where only inputs/outputs

need to be dealt with. For this reason, the MOD-WET

consists entirely of functions. The value of modularity is

407

model, which is built up from existing MOD-WET functions.

In addition to the MOD-WET functions and those you

develop on your own, there are many community-based

functions that are provided on the MATLAB file exchange.

Visualization in MATLAB:

Visualizing imported data or results of computations are

often a crucial part of understanding and communicating your

work. MATLAB provides many options for visualizing data (see

the Graphics chapter in the MATLAB primer). Depending on

the type of data to be plotted, dierent graphics options exist

(figures can be created and controlled via the figure, clf,

close, and related commands). It is important to choose a

type of graphical representation that is well-suited to the

characteristics you are trying to communicate. When plotting

time series data or one variable vs. another, an x-y line (or

scatter) plot using the plot command is generally most

useful. Annotation of plots is crucial, so you should become

familiar with commands to control labeling and other features

of the plot (i.e. xlabel, ylabel, grid, title, legend,

colorbar, set, etc.). For time series, where date/time labels

are desired, the use of the xtick, ytick, and datetick

commands may be useful. In many cases it might also be

useful to have multiple graphics on the same figure, which can

be done via the subplot command.

In many hydrologic examples (e.g. topography) it is

useful to visualize data as mapped results (i.e. when a variable

depends on geographic x/y coordinates). The most common

functions useful for mapping are: imagesc, surf, contour,

following (where comments are added for clarity):

% generate 2D map given x and y coordinates (vectors) and map (2D array) of elevations, i.e. dsm

imagesc(x,y,dsm);

% set the correct orientation for the y-axis (otherwise MATLAB flips it)

set(gca,'YDir','normal');

% impose the proper aspect ratio (i.e. each pixel

should be square not rectangular based on the implicit geographic extent if each pixel is 30m x 30m

for example)

axis image;

% add colorbar

colorbar;

% keep the map on and allows for overlaying plots

hold on

MATLAB provides several colorbar options, with jet

being the default. Other colorbars, or ones you design yourself

may be more useful in other circumstances. For example, the

hsv colormap is useful for plotting maps of aspect or wind

direction (circular/angular directions) because angles of both

0 and 360 degrees should be represented by the same color

since they are actually the same angle. High and low values

are represented with the same color in this colormap which

can be invoked via: colormap(hsv).

Finally, invariably you will need to include graphical

figures into homework assignments or lab reports being

written in a word processing program. There are multiple

ways to save figures. Saving can be done from within a script

or function using the saveas command, e.g.

408

saveas(gcf,'figure_name.png','png')

window). In saving or exporting figures it is very important

that you do so in a way that makes them readable and clear

in the document you are putting it into. You do not want all

of your hard work in generating the figure to go to waste if it

is unreadable in the word processing file! In particular you

should control the font size, line thickness, and graphical

resolution on the export. Note that the default font and line

sizes and rendering do not always make for readable figures

when pasted into a document. These and other figure

characteristics can be done from within your script (using set

or print commands) or via the Export Setup, which can be

customized for your needs.

409

Chapter 13

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