Core Investigators

Global Context




Whitewater Basin



Whitewater Basin

The 1100 km2 Whitewater drainage basin is a carefully selected regional-scale Natural Laboratory for the investigation of heavy-rainfall induced peak flows resulting dominantly from overland flow (Figure 2). Peak flows are defined as the maximum flow in a channel during a rainfall-runoff event. If the peak flow results in over-bank flow then we call it a flood. In Whitewater Basin, base-flow contribution to peak flows is not a primary factor. Peak flows occur frequently during a year and are the salient hydrologic characteristic in this basin. Snowmelt runoff is negligible. The soil is composed of fine-grained sediment, and the land use is primarily agricultural (crops in fields in a large area of the western part of the basin and cattle ranching in the eastern part). All of the third- and higher-Strahler order channels in the drainage basin are lined with a dense band of trees, yet, there are few trees elsewhere in the basin owing to the predominantly agricultural use. Infiltration rates are very small compared to rainfall delivery rates during the high intensity rainfall events that produce floods, and presently, infiltration is estimated to be within the error of determining rainfall rates. Paved roads, small towns, and lakes make up an unusually small fraction of the drainage area. The Whitewater Basin is covered by three WSR-88D radars in the NEXRAD network, with the NEXRAD at Wichita being the most relevant for our study. As shown in Table 2, three of the four HK proposals are taking the first steps towards testing SSSON in RET. All these features make Whitewater Basin a very attractive Natural Laboratory for developing COPON theory.