Chaotic Characteristics of Snowmelt Runoff: A Preliminary Study

by Bradford P. Wilcox, USDA-Agricultural Research Service, United States,
Mark S. Seyfried, USDA-Agricultural Research Service, United States,
Wilbert H. Blackburn, USDA-Agricultural Research Service, United States,
Thor H. Matison, USDA-Agricultural Research Service, United States,



Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Watershed Planning and Analysis in Action

Abstract: Chaos, the study of nonlinear dynamic systems, offers a way of observing order in systems previously thought to be random. In this study, we analyze snowmelt runoff from a small watershed (25 ha) in southwestern Idaho, for chaotic dynamics. The question we pose is: does runoff behave in a random fashion, or is it deterministic, controlled by a limited number of state variables? Results of this study suggest that runoff is deterministic and could be described using a model that requires only a few nonlinear equations. Unfortunately, chaos theory gives no indication of the make-up of these controlling equations.

Subject Headings: Runoff | Snowmelt | Model analysis | Nonlinear response | Watersheds | Mathematical models | Dynamic analysis | Idaho | North America | United States

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