Pseudo Paired Catchments Analysis to Assess the Impact of Urbanization on Catchment Hydrology

Friday, 19 December 2014
Bahar Salavati1, Ludovic Oudin1, Carina Furusho2 and Pierre Ribstein1, (1)University Pierre and Marie Curie Paris VI, Paris, France, (2)IRSTEA, Antony Cedex, France
Paired catchments analysis provides a robust approach to assess the impact of land use changes on catchment’s hydrological response. This approach is limited by the availability of data for two neighbor catchments with and without land use changes under similar climate conditions. Thus, hydrological modelling approaches are also very popular since they do not depend on data of a reference catchment. In the present study, 70 urbanized and non-urbanized paired catchments were selected in the United States. Unit housing density maps over the 1940-2010 time period were used to reconstruct historic impervious area extents with aproximatly the same resolution as the National Land Cover Database (NLCD) maps. Two approaches were compared to assess the impact of urbanization on catchment-scale hydrology: the classical paired catchments approach using observed flow time series and an alternative paired catchments approach involving hydrological modeling that allows to simulate a virtual control catchment. To this aim, the GR4J model, a conceptual daily 4-parameter hydrological model, was used. The parameters of the model calibrated on the pre urbanization period were used to predict the streamflow that would have occurred in the urban catchment if the urbanization had not taken place.

Then, classical statistical methods involving ANCOVA were used to detect the significance and to quantify the change on the hydrological responses due to land use changes. Results show that the two approaches lead to similar conclusions on the impact of urbanization on catchment hydrology. Thus, the modelling approach provides a relevant alternative for case studies where data of reference catchments are not available.