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Prediction of runoff and discharge in the Simiyu River (tributary of Lake Victoria, Tanzania) using the WetSpa model

Abstract : A spatially distributed hydrologic model (WetSpa) is used to estimate daily river water discharge in the Simiyu river a tributary of Lake Victoria, Tanzania. The model combines topography, landuse and soil maps, and observed daily meteorological time series to predict discharge hydrographs and the spatial distribution of hydrological parameters in the catchment. The elevations in the catchment range from 2000 to 1100 m at the outlet, with average slope of 1.4%. The dominant landuse types are, wasteland, grassland, bushland, cultivated land, and a very small area is covered by surface water. The dominant soil types are sandy loam, followed by sandy clay loam, clay loam, clay, loam and sandy clay. There are two distinctive seasons in the Simiyu catchment. Short rains mainly in November, December and January, and long rains in March to May, resulting in a total average annual precipitation of 700 to 1000 mm. The annual potential evapotranspiration is about 1300 mm, and the river discharge at the catchment outlet ranges from 0 to about 200 m3/s. Global parameters of the model are calibrated using three years of daily observed discharge values measured at the mouth of the river at Lake Victoria. The estimated average travel time of the runoff to the outlet of the catchment is about 2.4 d and maximum 8 d for the most remote areas. The model results also show that the surface runoff and interflow provide respectively 38.6% and 61.4% of the total runoff, while the contribution of groundwater drainage is nil. The absence of groundwater drainage is probably due to the high evaporation demand of the atmosphere, which accounts for about 90% of the total precipitation being lost by evapotranspiration. The annual water balance estimated with the model reveals that the total outflow to Lake Victoria is about 500×106 m3 per year, which occurs mainly in the wet seasons, i.e. from March to May and from November to January. The volume of runoff produced by agricultural land amounts to about 9% of the total runoff annually.
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J. Rwetabula, F. de Smedt, M. Rebhun. Prediction of runoff and discharge in the Simiyu River (tributary of Lake Victoria, Tanzania) using the WetSpa model. Hydrology and Earth System Sciences Discussions, European Geosciences Union, 2007, 4 (2), pp.881-908. ⟨hal-00298828⟩

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