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Tag: runoff
  • Automation of Gridded HEC-HMS Model Development Using Python: Initial Condition Testing and Calibration Applications

    Abstract: The US Army Corps of Engineers’s (USACE) Hydrologic Engineering Center-Hydrologic Modeling System (HEC-HMS) rainfall-runoff model is widely used within the research community to develop both event-based and continuous rainfall-runoff models. The soil moisture accounting (SMA) algorithm is commonly used for long-term simulations. Depending on the final model setup, 12 to 18 parameters are needed to characterize the modeled watershed’s canopy, surface, soil, and routing processes, all of which are potential calibration parameters. HEC-HMS includes optimization tools to facilitate model calibration, but only initial conditions (ICs) can be calibrated when using the gridded SMA algorithm. Calibrating a continuous SMA HEC-HMS model is an iterative process that can require hundreds of simulations, a time intensive process requiring automation. HEC-HMS is written in Java and is predominantly run through a graphical user interface (GUI). As such, conducting a long-term gridded SMA calibration is infeasible using the GUI. USACE Construction Engineering Research Laboratory (CERL) has written a workflow that utilizes the existing Jython application programming interface (API) to batch run HEC-HMS simulations with Python. The workflow allows for gridded SMA HEC-HMS model sensitivity and calibration analyses to be conducted in a timely manner.
  • Changes in Climate and Its Effect on Timing of Snowmelt and Intensity-Duration-Frequency Curves

    Abstract: Snow is a critical water resource for much of the U.S. and failure to ac-count for changes in climate could deleteriously impact military assets. In this study, we produced historical and future snow trends through modeling at three military sites (in Washington, Colorado, and North Dakota) and the Western U.S. For selected rivers, we performed seasonal trend analysis of discharge extremes. We calculated flood frequency curves and estimated the probability of occurrence of future annual maximum daily rainfall depths. Additionally, we generated intensity-duration-frequency curves (IDF) to find rainfall intensities at several return levels. Generally, our results showed a decreasing trend in historical and future snow duration, rain-on-snow events, and snowmelt runoff. This decreasing trend in snowpack could reduce water resources. A statistically significant increase in maximum streamflow for most rivers at the Washington and North Dakota sites occurred for several months of the year. In Colorado, only a few months indicated such an increase. Future IDF curves for Colorado and North Dakota indicated a slight increase in rainfall intensity whereas the Washington site had about a twofold increase. This increase in rainfall in-tensity could result in major flood events, demonstrating the importance of accounting for climate changes in infrastructure planning.
  • A Pulse of Mercury and Major Ions in Snowmelt Runoff from a Small Arctic Alaska Watershed

    Abstract: Atmospheric mercury (Hg) is deposited to Polar Regions during springtime atmospheric mercury depletion events (AMDEs) that require halogens and snow or ice surfaces. The fate of this Hg during and following snowmelt is largely unknown. We measured Hg, major ions, and stable water isotopes from the snowpack through the entire spring melt runoff period for two years. Our small (2.5 ha) watershed is near Barrow (now Utqiaġvik), Alaska. We measured discharge, made 10 000 snow depths, and collected over 100 samples of snow and meltwater for chemical analysis in 2008 and 2009 from the watershed snowpack and ephemeral stream channel. Our results suggest AMDE Hg complexed with Cl− or Br− may be less likely to be photochemically reduced and re-emitted to the atmosphere prior to snowmelt, and we estimate that roughly 25% of the Hg in snowmelt is attributable to AMDEs. Projected Arctic warming, with more open sea ice leads providing halogen sources that promote AMDEs, may provide enhanced Hg deposition, reduced Hg emission and, ultimately, an increase in snowpack and snowmelt runoff Hg concentrations.
  • Wintertime Snow and Precipitation Conditions in the Willow Creek Watershed above Ririe Dam, Idaho

    ABSTRACT:  The Ririe Dam and Reservoir project is located on Willow Creek near Idaho Falls, Idaho, and is important for flood risk reduction and water supply. The current operating criteria is based on fully storing a large winter runoff event. These winter runoff events are generally from large storm events, termed atmospheric rivers, which produce substantial precipitation. In addition to the precipitation, enhanced runoff is produced due to frozen soil and snowmelt. However, the need for additional water supply by local stakeholders has prompted the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to seek to better understand the current level of flood risk reduction provided by Ririe Dam and Reservoir.  Flood risk analysis using hydrologic modeling software requires quantification of the probability for all of the hydrometeorologic inputs. Our study develops the precipitation, SWE, and frozen ground probabilities that are required for the hydrologic modeling necessary to quantify the current winter flood risk.
  • Stormwater Management and Optimization Toolbox

    Abstract: As stormwater regulations for hydrologic and water quality control become increasingly stringent, Department of Defense (DoD) facilities are faced with the daunting task of complying with multiple laws and regulations. This often requires facilities to plan, design, and implement structural best management practices (BMPs) to capture, filter, and/or infiltrate runoff—requirements that can be complicated, contradictory, and difficult to plan. This project demonstrated the Stormwater Management Optimization Toolbox (SMOT), a spreadsheet-based tool that effectively analyzes and plans for compliance to the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007 pre-hydrologic conditions through BMP implementation, resulting in potential cost savings by reducing BMP sizes while simultaneously achieving compliance with multiple objectives. SMOT identifies the most cost-effective modeling method based on an installation’s local conditions (soils, rainfall patterns, drainage network, and regulatory requirements). The work first demonstrated that the Model Selection Tool (MST) recommendation accurately results in the minimum BMP cost for 45 facilities of widely varying climatic and regional conditions, and then demonstrated SMOT at two facilities.
  • PUBLICATION NOTICE: Utilizing Stream Flows to Forecast Dredging Requirements

    Abstract: In recent years, the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has spent an average of approximately a billion dollars annually for navigation channel maintenance dredging. To execute these funds effectively, USACE districts must determine which navigation channels are most in need of maintenance dredging each year. Traditionally, dredging volume estimates for Operations and Maintenance budget development are based on experiential knowledge and historic averages, with the effects of upstream, precipitation-driven streamflows considered via general-rule approximations. This study uses the Streamflow Prediction Tool, a hydrologic routing model driven by global weather forecast ensembles, and dredging records from the USACE Galveston District to explore relationships between precipitation-driven inland channel flow and subsequent dredged volumes in the downstream coastal channel reaches. Spatially based regression relationships are established between cumulative inland flows and dredged volumes. Results in the test cases of the Houston Ship Channel and the Sabine-Neches Waterway in Texas indicate useful correlations between the computed streamflow volumes and recorded dredged volumes. These relationships are stronger for channel reaches farther inland, upstream of the coastal processes that are not included in the precipitation-driven hydrologic model.
  • PUBLICATION NOTICE: Spatial Analysis of Precipitation and Snow Water Equivalent Extremes for the Columbia River Basin

    Abstract: Recent advances in the spatial statistics of extremes and model calibration were applied to develop and deliver areal-exceedance estimates for precipitation (PREC), by season and duration, and snow water equivalent (SWE), by cool season month and for the water year, for 758 delineated sub-basins of the Columbia River Basin (CRB), which correspond to a new CRB hydrology model watershed delineation. Understanding that future US Army Corps of Engineers, Northwestern Division, mission requirements may change, project execution also included the development and delivery of an application guidance document to credibly compute areal-exceedance estimates, including uncertainty, for PREC or SWE for any arbitrary area within the CRB. R, a free software environment for statistical computing and graphics (, and QGIS, a free and open source geographic information system (, were the primary tools used for product development and delivery. The following R software packages were primarily used during project execution: evd, Glmnet, maps, raster, rgdal, SDMTools, sp, and SpatialExtremes.