Validation of a locally revised topographic index in Central New Jersey, USA

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Abstract

Saturation excess is a major runoff process in humid regions such as the US Northeast. Topographic index (TI) is used to simulate the pattern of runoff-contributing areas following a saturation excess runoff process. Although TI is useful to delineate saturated areas, i.e., hydrologically sensitive areas, for taking spatially distinctive actions in watersheds for improving water quality, local resource management practitioners often question its applicability to local conditions. This study introduces two methods to validate a locally revised TI in humid central New Jersey, USA. The revised TI uses soil moisture deficit instead of water table depth as the state variable in simulating the saturation excess runoff process. First, the calculated TI values were compared to the soil moisture measurements sampled in two sites in Tewksbury Township in the region to evaluate their correlations. Second, a watershed model Variable Source Load Function (VSLF) that incorporates TI was applied to the Neshanic River Watershed in the region and compared to another watershed model Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) to evaluate its capability in predicting the streamflow and its runoff and baseflow components. The positive correlations between soil moisture measurements and TI suggested TI is a good indicator of runoff-generating potential. VSLF achieves a modeling efficiency comparable to SWAT in simulating watershed hydrology. Such validation gives practitioners confidence to incorporate TI pattern into watershed management practices for improving their efficiency. The results are applicable to shallow, interflow-driven watersheds in humid regions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6616-6633
Number of pages18
JournalWater (Switzerland)
Volume7
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Aquatic Science
  • Water Science and Technology

Keywords

  • Neshanic River watershed
  • Soil and Water Assessment Tool
  • Soil moisture
  • Topographic Index
  • Variable Source Load Function (VLSF) Model
  • Variable source area hydrology

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