Articles | Volume 14, issue 7
Research article
24 Jul 2014
Research article |  | 24 Jul 2014

Estimation of synthetic flood design hydrographs using a distributed rainfall–runoff model coupled with a copula-based single storm rainfall generator

A. Candela, G. Brigandì, and G. T. Aronica

Abstract. In this paper a procedure to derive synthetic flood design hydrographs (SFDH) using a bivariate representation of rainfall forcing (rainfall duration and intensity) via copulas, which describes and models the correlation between two variables independently of the marginal laws involved, coupled with a distributed rainfall–runoff model, is presented. Rainfall–runoff modelling (R–R modelling) for estimating the hydrological response at the outlet of a catchment was performed by using a conceptual fully distributed procedure based on the Soil Conservation Service – Curve Number method as an excess rainfall model and on a distributed unit hydrograph with climatic dependencies for the flow routing. Travel time computation, based on the distributed unit hydrograph definition, was performed by implementing a procedure based on flow paths, determined from a digital elevation model (DEM) and roughness parameters obtained from distributed geographical information. In order to estimate the primary return period of the SFDH, which provides the probability of occurrence of a hydrograph flood, peaks and flow volumes obtained through R–R modelling were treated statistically using copulas. Finally, the shapes of hydrographs have been generated on the basis of historically significant flood events, via cluster analysis.

An application of the procedure described above has been carried out and results presented for the case study of the Imera catchment in Sicily, Italy.

Final-revised paper