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Watershed Hydrology of the (Semi) Humid Ethiopian Highlands

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Abstract

Understanding the basic relationships between rainfall, runoff and soil loss is vital for effective management and utilization of water resources and soil conservation planning. A study was conducted in three small watersheds in or near the Blue Nile basin in Ethiopia, with long-term records of rainfall and discharge. To better understand the water movement within the watershed, piezometers were installed and infiltration rates were measured in the 2008 rainy season. We also reanalyzed the discharge from small plots within the watersheds. Infiltration rates were generally in excess of the rainfall rates. Based on this and plot discharge measurements, we concluded that most rainfall infiltrated into the soil, especially in the upper, steep and well-drained portions of the watershed. Direct runoff is generated either from saturated areas at the lower and less steep portions of the hill slopes or from areas of exposed bedrock. Using these principles, a simple distributed watershed hydrology model was developed. The models reproduce the daily discharge pattern reasonably well for the small watershed and the 10-day discharge values for the whole Blue Nile Basin in Ethiopia. The simplicity and scalability of the model hold promise for use in un-gauged catchments.

Keywords

  • Variable source area
  • Perched water table
  • Saturation excess
  • Infiltration excess
  • Hillslope hydrology

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Correspondence to Tammo S. Steenhuis .

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Engda, T.A. et al. (2011). Watershed Hydrology of the (Semi) Humid Ethiopian Highlands. In: Melesse, A.M. (eds) Nile River Basin. Springer, Dordrecht. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-007-0689-7_7

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