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Title: Modelling depressional storage and ponding in a Canadian prairie landscape
Author: MacMillan, Robert A.
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1994
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There is a need for accurate information on patterns of distribution of surface water in agricultural landscapes in western Canada. Artificial drainage on agricultural land has become widespread as farmers attempt to maximise their available land and minimise obstacles to efficient cultivation. There is a shortage of appropriate methods for describing, analysing and simulating the flow of surface water and its accumulation in shallow closed depressions in agricultural landscapes. Such capabilities are increasingly needed to assess the benefits and impacts of both on- and off-farm drainage. The goal of the present study is therefore to develop and test procedures to quantify the capacity to store runoff in depressions in agricultural landscapes and to estimate the extent to which this depressional storage is filled at any given time. Analyses of the conditions controlling runoff were conducted at a single site characterised by low relief, glaciated terrain and a non-integrated drainage system. Field measurements of soil hydrological properties and observed ponding were collected for the farm-scale site during a period of spring snow melt and runoff in 1989. Automated extraction of geomorphological features from digital elevation data was used to delineate the location , extent and maximum volume of all depressions and to establish the sequence in which they would be expected to fill, overspill and drain. A highly-distributed, physically-based hydrological model (DISTHMOD) was assembled and used to simulate runoff and ponding for the selected site for the same period. Field studies confirmed that the formation of shallow ponds in the spring was almost wholly related to rapid melting of snow and surface runoff of snowmelt. Runoff was observed to collect in all depressions of any significant size. Ponds less than 40 cm deep disappeared by mid June through a combination of evaporation and infiltration. Ponds greater than 40 cm deep generally persisted throughout the summer. Such ponds occupied lower positions in the landscape and most were in contact with a water table.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available