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Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 11, issue 9
Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 11, 2567–2582, 2011
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-11-2567-2011
© Author(s) 2011. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Special issue: 11th Plinius Conference on Mediterranean Storms

Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 11, 2567–2582, 2011
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-11-2567-2011
© Author(s) 2011. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 27 Sep 2011

Research article | 27 Sep 2011

A physically-based parsimonious hydrological model for flash floods in Mediterranean catchments

H. Roux1,2, D. Labat1,2,3, P.-A. Garambois1,2, M.-M. Maubourguet1,2, J. Chorda1,2, and D. Dartus1,2 H. Roux et al.
  • 1Université de Toulouse, INPT, UPS, IMFT (Institut de Mécanique des Fluides de Toulouse), Allée Camille Soula, 31400 Toulouse, France
  • 2CNRS, IMFT, 31400 Toulouse, France
  • 3LMTG-Universite de Toulouse-CNRS-IRD-OMP, 14 Avenue Edouard Belin, 31400 Toulouse, France

Abstract. A spatially distributed hydrological model, dedicated to flood simulation, is developed on the basis of physical process representation (infiltration, overland flow, channel routing). Estimation of model parameters requires data concerning topography, soil properties, vegetation and land use. Four parameters are calibrated for the entire catchment using one flood event. Model sensitivity to individual parameters is assessed using Monte-Carlo simulations. Results of this sensitivity analysis with a criterion based on the Nash efficiency coefficient and the error of peak time and runoff are used to calibrate the model. This procedure is tested on the Gardon d'Anduze catchment, located in the Mediterranean zone of southern France. A first validation is conducted using three flood events with different hydrometeorological characteristics. This sensitivity analysis along with validation tests illustrates the predictive capability of the model and points out the possible improvements on the model's structure and parameterization for flash flood forecasting, especially in ungauged basins. Concerning the model structure, results show that water transfer through the subsurface zone also contributes to the hydrograph response to an extreme event, especially during the recession period. Maps of soil saturation emphasize the impact of rainfall and soil properties variability on these dynamics. Adding a subsurface flow component in the simulation also greatly impacts the spatial distribution of soil saturation and shows the importance of the drainage network. Measures of such distributed variables would help discriminating between different possible model structures.

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