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Durham University

Department of Geography

Staff Profile

Publication details for Professor Alexander Densmore

Sanyal, J., Densmore, A.L. & Carbonneau, P. Analysing the effect of land use/cover changes at sub-catchment levels on downstream flood peaks: a semi-distributed modelling approach with sparse data. Catena. 2014;118:28-40.

Author(s) from Durham


This paper aims to evaluate how varying degrees of land-use/cover (LULC) changes across sub-catchments affect a flood peak at the catchment outlet. The study site was the Konar catchment, a part of the upper Damodar Basin in eastern India. A HEC-HMS model was set up to simulate rainfall–runoff processes for two LULC scenarios three decades apart. Because of sparse data availability at the study site, we used the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) curve number (CN) approach to account for the effect of LULC and soil on the hydrologic response of the catchment. Although a weak (r = 0.53) but statistically significant positive linear correlation was found between sub-catchment wise LULC changes and the magnitude of the flood peak at the catchment outlet, a number of sub-catchments showed marked deviations from this relationship. The varying timing of flow convergence at different stream orders due to localised LULC changes makes it difficult to upscale the conventional land-use and runoff relationship, evident at the plot scale, to a large basin. However, a simple modelling framework is provided based on easily accessible input data and a freely available and widely used hydrological model (HEC-HMS) to check the possible effect of LULC changes at a particular sub-catchment on the hydrograph at the basin outlet.