Encyclopedia of Agrophysics

2011 Edition
| Editors: Jan Gliński, Józef Horabik, Jerzy Lipiec

Overland Flow

Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-90-481-3585-1_104


Hortonian overland flow; Infiltration excess overland flow; Saturation excess overland flow; Surface runoff


Overland flow is the movement of water over the land, downslope toward a surface water body.

Overland flow is a very important aspect of the water cycle and can be generated under two different physical mechanisms. The infiltration excess overland flow is formed (named also Hortonian overland flow after Horton E. R.), when the rainfall intensity exceeds the soil infiltration capacity in an area (Liu et al., 2004). Then water accumulates on the soil and starts moving downslope, due to gravity, towards the hydrographic network. The second mechanism occurs when the soil saturation exceeds its maximum level due to groundwater uplifting, baseflow, and lateral subsurface water discharges, resulting in the appearance of saturation excess overland flow (Beven, 2001).

Factors such as soil permeability, topographic slope, and type and density of vegetation affect the...

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  1. Beven, J. K., 2001. Rainfall – Runoff Modeling. England: Wiley, p. 360.Google Scholar
  2. Liu, Q. Q., Chen, L., Li, J. C., and Singh, V. P., 2004. Two-dimensional kinematic wave model of overland-flow. Journal of Hydrology, 291, 28–41.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Inland WatersHellenic Centre for Marine ResearchAnavissosGreece