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Hydrologic response of a tropical watershed to urbanization
journal contributionposted on 2014-09-19, 00:00 authored by Jing Yang, Dara Entekhabi, Fabio Castelli, Lloyd ChuaLloyd Chua
Urbanization has profound influence on the hydrologic response of landscapes. Urban transformation affects the storages and processes that determine the generation of hydrologic fluxes. It also changes the time-scales associated with hydrologic processes. Shifts in hydrologic response of the watershed unit due to urban transformation may be more complex than the simple linear mixing (weighted sum) of responses from the urbanized and non-urbanized fractions of the landscape. This may especially be the case for tropical watersheds where the precipitation forcing of the watershed is frequent and intense - interacting with the shifting time-scales and changing storages with increasing urbanization. In this study, a fully distributed hydrological model (MOBIDIC) that captures hydrologic dynamics during storms and interstorms is applied in order to characterize the potentially nonlinear response of a tropical watershed to urban transformation. Indices that quantify the departures from linear response are introduced and used to test the effects of urbanization on different hydrologic processes and fluxes in a mixed (urban and non-urban) watershed. The tropical Kranji watershed in Singapore is used in this study. Fortunately two sub-watersheds within Kranji that have streamflow gaging stations are well-suited for the calibration of the model. One sub-watershed is nearly fully urbanized and another is pristine (non-urban). As a result the contrasting components (urban and non-urban) can be calibrated in the model. The simulation system is then used to assess the hydrologic response due to changing levels of urbanization. For some fluxes and storages, the hydrologic response due to changing urban fraction cannot be simply predicted from a linear mixing model.