Multicriteria land cover design via coupled hydrologic and multi-sector water management models

Tomasz Janus, James Tomlinson, Daniela Anghileri, Justin Sheffield, Stefan Kollet, Julien J. Harou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We investigate how hydrologic-land feedbacks and a hydrologic-water management linkage impact land cover arrangements optimized within a multiobjective land cover design framework. The framework integrates a spatially-distributed and physically-based hydrologic model, for simulating surface and subsurface flow and land processes, with a network-based multi-sector water resources management and allocation model. Both models used (Parflow, Pywr) are open-source. The framework is applied to a hillslope problem to identify land cover patterns that optimize trade-offs between water, food, energy and environment objectives. Results show trade-offs depend on land cover composition and the spatial arrangement of land covers within the catchment. Total runoff volume and peak flow of runoff was found to change 3 and 2-fold, respectively, between optimized solutions as land cover composition and spatial patterns were altered to satisfy different combinations of objectives. At the same time, up to a 15% reduction in the total runoff volume and an 8% reduction in the peak flow of runoff were observed within optimized land cover patterns having equal composition but different spatial arrangements. This emphasizes the impact on hydrologic behavior of the spatial location of land covers within a catchment. The emergence of patterns in land cover distribution for different trade-offs between objectives is driven by feedback mechanisms between subsurface hydrology and land processes, which are implicitly linked to the properties of each land cover and the interactions between neighboring land covers through lateral groundwater flow. The study demonstrates the added benefits of coupling distributed hydrologic models with water management simulation for multisector multicriteria land cover planning.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)129294
JournalJournal of Hydrology
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2023


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