The application of the monthly time step Pitman rainfall-runoff model to the Kafue River basin of Zambia

by Mwelwa, Elenestina Mutekenya

Abstract (Summary)
This thesis presents a discussion on the study undertaken in the application of the monthly time step Pitman rainfall-runoff model to the Kafue River basin. The study constituted one of the initial steps in the capacity building and expansion of the application of hydrologic models in the southern African region for water resources assessment, one of the core areas of the Southern African FRIEND project (Flow Regimes from International Experimental Network Data).

The research process was undertaken in four major stages, each stage working towards achieving the research objectives. The first stage was the preparation of spatial data which included the selection and delineation of sub-catchments and inclusion of spatial features required to run the Pitman model and transferring the spatial data into SPATSIM.

The second stage was the preparation of input data, mainly rainfall, streamflow, evaporation, and water abstraction data. This information was then imported into SPATSIM, which was able to assist in the further preparation of data by assessment of the input data quality, linking of observed flows and spatial interpolation of point rainfall data to average catchment rainfall in readiness for running and calibration of the model.

The third stage was the running and calibration of the Pitman model. Use was made of both the automatic calibration facility, as well as manual calibration by means of the time series graph display and analysis facility of SPATSIM. Model calibration was used to obtain the best fit and an acceptable correlation between the simulated and the observed flows and to obtain simulation parameter sets for sub-catchments and regions within the Kafue catchment.

The fourth stage was the analysis and evaluation of the model results. This included verification of results over different time periods and validation and testing of parameter transfers to other catchments. This stage also included the evaluation of SPATSIM as a tool for applying the model and as a database for the processing and storage of water resources data.

The study’s output includes: A comprehensive database of hydrometeorological, physical catchment characteristics, landuse and water abstraction information for the Kafue basin; calibrated Pitman model parameters for the sub-catchments within the Kafue basin; recommendations for future work and data collection programmes for the application of the model. The study has also built capacity by facilitating training and exposure to rainfall-runoff models (specifically the Pitman model) and associated software, SPATSIM. In addition, the dissemination of the results of this study will serve as an effective way of raising awareness on the application of the Pitman model and the use of the SPATSIM software within Zambia and the region.

The overall Pitman model results were found to be satisfactory and the calibrated model is able to reproduce the observed spatial and temporal variations in streamflow characteristics in the Kafue River basin.

Bibliographical Information:


School:Rhodes University

School Location:South Africa

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:institute for water research iwr


Date of Publication:01/01/2005

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