The partial differential equation for vertical, one‐phase, unsaturated moisture flow in soils is employed as a mathematical model for infiltration rate. Solution of this equation for the rainfall‐ponding upper boundary condition is proposed as a sensitive means to describe infiltration rate as a dependent upper boundary condition. A nonlinear Crank‐Nicholson implicit finite difference scheme is used to develop a solution to this equation that predicts infiltration under realistic upper boundary and soil matrix conditions. The kinematic wave approximation to the equations of unsteady overland flow on cascaded planes is solved by a second order explicit difference scheme. The difference equations of infiltration and overland flow are then combined into a model for a simple watershed that employs computational logic so that boundary conditions match at the soil surface. The mathematical model is tested by comparison with data from a 40‐foot laboratory soil flume fitted with a rainfall simulator and with data from the USDA Agricultural Research Service experimental watershed at Hastings, Nebraska. Good agreement is obtained between measured and predicted hydrographs, although there are some differences in recession lengths. The results indicate that a theoretically based model can be used to describe simple watershed response when appropriate physical parameters can be obtained.
Water Resources Research – Wiley
Published: Aug 1, 1971
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