Use of a geomorphological transfer function to model design floods in small hillside catchments in semiarid Tunisia
Summary, in English
In the beginning of the 1990s, the Tunisian Ministry of Agriculture launched an ambitious program for constructing small hillside reservoirs in the northern and-central region of the country. At present, more than 720 reservoirs have been created. They consist of small compacted earth dams supplied with a, horizontal overflow weir. Due to lack of hydrological data and the area's extreme floods, however, it is very difficult to design the overflow weirs. Also, catchments are very sensitive to erosion and the reservoirs are rapidly silted up. Consequently, prediction of flood volumes for important rainfall events becomes crucial. Few hydrological observations, however, exist for the catchment areas. For this purpose a geomorphological model methodology is presented to predict shape and volume of hydrographs for important floods. This model is built around a production function that defines the net storm rainfall (portion of rainfall during a storm which reaches a stream channel as direct runoff) from the total rainfall (observed rainfall in the catchment) and a transfer function based on the most complete possible definition of the surface drainage system. Observed rainfall during 5-min time steps was used in the model. The model runoff generation is based on surface drainage characteristics which can be easily extracted from maps. The model was applied to two representative experimental catchments in central Tunisia. The conceptual rainfall-runoff model based on surface topography and drainage. network was seen to reproduce observed runoff satisfactory. The calibrated model was used to estimate runoff from 5, 10, 20, and 50 year rainfall return periods regarding runoff volume, maximum runoff, as well as the general shape of the runoff hydrograph. Practical conclusions to design hill reservoirs and to extrapolate results using this model methodology for ungauged small catchments in semiarid Tunisia are made. (C) 2004 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.