Near surface roughness estimation: A parameterization derived from artificial rainfall experiments and two-dimensional hydrodynamic modelling for multiple vegetation coverages

by David Feldmann, Patrick Laux, Andreas Heckl, Manfred Schindler, Harald Kunstmann


Roughness is the key parameter for surface runoff simulations. This study aims to determine robust Manning resistance coefficients (n) on the basis of consecutive artificial rainfall experiments on natural hillslopes available in literature, obtained at 22 different sites with different degrees of vegetation cover and type. The Manning resistance coefficient is particularly important in the context of two-dimensional (2D) hydraulic heavy rainfall simulations. Since there is a wide range of possible resistance values available leading to significantly different results regarding the accumulation of surface runoff, especially for shallow water depths. The planning of flood protection structures is directly affected by these uncertainties. This work also improves the knowledge between roughness and the shape of the hydrograph allowing a better calibration of infiltration models. As flow velocity, water depth, and infiltration rate were not observed during the rainfall experiments, only the outflow of the test field and rain intensity are known. For this purpose, a framework was developed to parameterize shallow water depth (<1 cm) -dependent roughness coefficients. To test the robustness of the framework, three different formulations of depth-dependent roughness and a constant Manning coefficient are used by comparing the measured discharge under different rainfall intensities with simulations in a 2D-hydraulic model. We identified a strong dependency of Manning’s n on the degree of vegetation cover and -type as well as an influence of consecutive rainfall events. This finally leads to a more robust parameterization of near surface roughness for hydrodynamic modelling, which is particularly important for the simulation of heavy rainfall events.

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