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Water 2017, 9(12), 929; https://doi.org/10.3390/w9120929

Simulating Flash Floods at Hourly Time-Step Using the SWAT Model

1
Laboratoire Ecologie Fonctionnelle et Environnement (ECOLAB), Université de Toulouse, CNRS, INPT, UPS, 31400 Toulouse, France
2
Géosciences Environnement Toulouse (GET), Université de Toulouse, CNES, CNRS, IRD, UPS, 31400 Toulouse, France
3
Institut de Mécanique des Fluides de Toulouse (IMFT), Université de Toulouse, CNRS, INPT, UPS, 31400 Toulouse, France
4
Eawag, Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (EAWAG), 8600 Dübendorf, Switzerland
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 6 October 2017 / Revised: 8 November 2017 / Accepted: 23 November 2017 / Published: 28 November 2017
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Abstract

Flash floods are natural phenomena with environmental, social and economic impacts. To date, few numerical models are able to simulate hydrological processes at catchment scale at a reasonable time scale to describe flash events with accurate details. Considering a ~810 km2 Mediterranean river coastal basin (southwestern France) as a study case, the objective of the present study was to assess the ability of the sub-daily module of the lumped Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) to simulate discharge (1) time-continuously, by testing two sub-basin delineation schemes, two catchment sizes, and two output time-steps; and (2) at flood time-scale, by comparing the performances of SWAT to the performances of the event-based fully distributed MARINE model when simulating flash flood events. We showed that there was no benefit of decreasing the size of the minimum drainage area (e.g., from ~15 km2 down to ~1 km2) when delineating sub-basins in SWAT. We also showed that both the MARINE and SWAT models were equally able to reproduce peak discharge, flood timing and volume, and that they were both limited by rainfall and soil data. Hence, the SWAT model appears to be a reliable modelling tool to predict discharge over long periods of time in large flash-flood-prone basins. View Full-Text
Keywords: flash storm; flood event; sub-daily simulation; peak discharge; runoff; MARINE model; Mediterranean watershed flash storm; flood event; sub-daily simulation; peak discharge; runoff; MARINE model; Mediterranean watershed
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Boithias, L.; Sauvage, S.; Lenica, A.; Roux, H.; Abbaspour, K.C.; Larnier, K.; Dartus, D.; Sánchez-Pérez, J.M. Simulating Flash Floods at Hourly Time-Step Using the SWAT Model. Water 2017, 9, 929.

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