The influence of land use, soils and topography on the delivery of hillslope runoff to channels in SE Spain

Mike Kirkby*, Louise Bracken, Sim Reaney

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

119 Citations (Scopus)


It is generally accepted that within particular physiographic and climatic regions catchments exhibit differences in their hydrological response. These differences result from the interaction of spatial variability in catchment characteristics, variability of rainfall inputs and surface and subsurface hydrological processes. These interactions are complex and difficult to unravel. Hydrologically similar surfaces (HYSS) have been used to identify catchment areas that have a similar response to rainfall and have been identified at a number of scales. HYSS have been identified at the subcatchment scale for the Rambla de Nogalte in SE Spain. Areas with similar at-a-point hydrological storages were distinguished by using a combination of geology, land use and topography. This mapping was compared with discharge estimates made throughout the catchment following a seven-year return interval flood in September 1997. From this significant flood source areas were identified from reaches showing rapidly increasing channel discharge, and associated with HYSS that combined suitable internal characteristics with good connectivity to the main channel. This paper presents a simulation model that has been developed to investigate the way in which the hydrological response of areas within a HYSS respond to changes in source area, gradient, connectivity to the channel, storm size and intensity profile. This is one of the first studies using a hillslope model to investigate spatial patterns of runoff-response in semi-arid areas and results have implications for scaling up hydrological response, and on how the dynamics of runoff producing areas vary both under changing storm conditions and over time. It is implicit in our results that the nature of stream-slope coupling differs substantively between semi-arid and humid areas.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1459-1473
Number of pages15
JournalEarth Surface Processes and Landforms
Issue number13
Early online date16 Dec 2002
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2002
Externally publishedYes


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