Effect of the Spatial Variability of Land Use, Soil Type, and Precipitation on Streamflows in Small Watersheds Academic Article uri icon


  • The spatial variability of the data used in models includes the spatial discretization of the system into subsystems, the data resolution, and the spatial distribution of hydrologic features and parameters. In this study, we investigate the effect of the spatial distribution of land use, soil type, and precipitation on the simulated flows at the outlet of "small watersheds" (i.e., watersheds with times of concentration shorter than the model computational time step). The Soil and Water Assessment Tool model was used to estimate runoff and hydrographs. Different representations of the spatial data resulted in comparable model performances and even the use of uniform land use and soil type maps, instead of spatially distributed, was not noticeable. It was found that, although spatially distributed data help understand the characteristics of the watershed and provide valuable information to distributed hydrologic models, when the watershed is small, realistic representations of the spatial data do not necessarily improve the model performance. The results obtained from this study provide insights on the relevance of taking into account the spatial distribution of land use, soil type, and precipitation when modeling small watersheds. 2009 American Water Resources Association.

published proceedings

  • JAWRA Journal of the American Water Resources Association

author list (cited authors)

  • Cho, H., & Olivera, F.

citation count

  • 25

complete list of authors

  • Cho, Huidae||Olivera, Francisco

publication date

  • June 2009