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Development of a GIS Interface for Estimation of Runoff from Watersheds


Development of accurate surface runoff estimation techniques from ungauged watersheds is relevant in Indian condition due to the non-availability of hydrologic gauging stations in majority of watersheds. Besides this, the high budgetary requirements for installation of gauging stations are another limiting factor in India, which leads to the use of surface runoff estimation techniques for ungauged watersheds. Natural Resources Conservation Services Curve Number (NRCS-CN) method is one of the most widely used methods for quick and accurate estimation of surface runoff from ungauged watershed. Also, the coupling of NRCS-CN techniques with the advanced Geographic Information System (GIS) capabilities automates the process of runoff prediction in timely and efficient manner. Keeping view of this, a GIS interface was developed using the in-built macro programming language, Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) of ArcGIS® tool to estimate the surface runoff by adopting NRCS-CN technique and its three modifications. The developed interface named as Interface for Surface Runoff Estimation using Curve Number techniques (ISRE-CN), was validated using the recorded data for the periods from 1993 to 2001 of a gauged watershed, Banha in the Upper Damodar Valley in Jharkhand, India. The observed runoff depths for different rainfall events in this study watershed was compared with the predicted values of NRCS-CN methods and its three modifications using statistical significance tests. It was revealed that using all the rainfall data for different AMC conditions, the modified CN I performed the best [R 2 (coefficient of determination) = 0.92; E (model efficiency) = 0.89) followed by modified CN III method (R 2 = 0.88; E = 0.87), while the modified CN II (R 2 = 0.42; E = 0.36) failed to predict accurately the surface runoff from Banha watershed. Moreover, under AMC based estimations, the modified CN I method also performed best ( R 2 = 0.95; E = 0.95) for AMC II condition, while the modified CN II performed the worst in all the AMC conditions. However, the developed Interface in ArcGIS® needs to be tested in other watershed systems for wider applicability of the modified CN methods.

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Correspondence to A. Sarangi.

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Patil, J.P., Sarangi, A., Singh, O.P. et al. Development of a GIS Interface for Estimation of Runoff from Watersheds. Water Resour Manage 22, 1221–1239 (2008).

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  • Surface runoff
  • ArcGIS
  • Curve number
  • Ungauged watersheds
  • VBA
  • GIS interface