The role of roads on hydrological response : Modeling and assessment for Swedish watersheds

Abstract: Understanding the role of road networks in alteration of hydrological responses is crucial for maintaining the accessibility and durability of road infrastructures. Road construction is one of the most common man made disturbances to a landscape. However, still the quantitative role of road topographical and geo-morphological properties on the hydrological responseof storms in catchments is only partially understood. The aim of this study was to use new methods to estimate and quantify the flood hazard probability with reference to the most influential physical catchment descriptors and road characteristics. In addition physical based modelling was used to estimate the effect of road topography on the hydrological responses of watersheds to storms with different intensities. A simple method was developed and discussed to address the most susceptible locations to flooding along the roads. Multivariate statistical analysis (PLS) employed to quantify the flood risk probability in the road-stream crossings concerning the correlation between the quantities of the physical catchment descriptors and occurrence/absence of flooding. The most influential factors in describing the probability of flooding along the roads were topographic wetness index, soil properties, road density and channel slopes. A detailed study of simulated flow duration curves showed differences between 20 watersheds for three different storms based on a digital elevation data with and without roads. An increase in peak flow and reduced delay occurred with increased storm intensity. However, the impact of the roads was much smaller and only possible to identify by detailed examination of statistical descriptors.