Current understanding of hydrological processes on common urban surfaces

Redfern, Thomas W.; Macdonald, Neil; Kjeldsen, Thomas R.; Miller, James D.; Reynard, Nick. 2016 Current understanding of hydrological processes on common urban surfaces. Progress in Physical Geography, 40 (5). 699-713.

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Understanding the rainfall-runoff behaviour of urban land surfaces is an important scientific and practical issue as stormwater management policies increasingly aimto manage flood risk at local scales within urban areas, whilst controlling the quality and quantity of runoff that reaches receiving water bodies. By reviewing field measurements reported within the literature on runoff, infiltration, evaporation and storage on common urban surfaces, this study describes a complex hydrological behaviour with greater rates of infiltration than often assumed,contradicting a commonly adopted, but simplified classification of the hydrological properties of urban surfaces. This shows that the term impervious surface, or impermeable surface, referring to all constructed surfaces (e.g. roads, roofs, footpaths, etc.) is inaccurate and potentially misleading. The hydrological character of urban surfaces is not stable through time, with both short seasonal) and long term (decadal) changes in hydrological behaviour, as surfaces respond to variations in seasonal characteristics and degradation in surface condition. At present these changing factors are not widely incorporated into hydrological modelling or urban surface water management planning, with static values describing runoff and assumptions of imperviousness often used. Developing a greater understanding of the linkages between urban surfaces and hydrological behaviour will improve the representation of diverse urban landscapes within hydrological models.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
CEH Sections/Science Areas: Reynard
ISSN: 0309-1333
Additional Keywords: urban hydrology, impervious surfaces, surface runoff, hydrological processes, urban infiltration
NORA Subject Terms: Hydrology
Date made live: 07 Jul 2016 10:56 +0 (UTC)

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