Modeling the Hydrological Impacts of Vegetation Cover Changes in the Upper Oum Er-Rbia Watershed (Morocco)

Mohamed, Msaddek; Abdelkader, El Garouani; George, Kimbowa


In Morocco, the mountainous areas are often exposed to bulky and vicious flows of water and sediment. This process is exacerbated by the decrease in vegetation cover and the disruption in rainfall-runoff conditions that frequently cause significant flooding. By exploring the main hydrologic elements of these processes, it is possible to understand the behavior and hydrological response of watersheds and thus plan accordingly. In this study, the authors focused on determining the morphometric characteristics of the upper Oum Er-Rbia River basin (UOERRB by assessing/ evaluating the land use and land cover changes for a period of 32 years (1984–2016). Hydrologic Engineering Center’s Hydrologic Modeling System (HEC-HMS) was applied to simulate four daily hydrological events. The concentration time was 7.7 hours. The four storm events examined to calibrate and validate the simulated outflow at the outlet indicated a good agreement between the hydrographs of the measured and simulated flows, with an average Nash-Sutcliffe efficiency (NSE) value ranging from 0.63 to 0.76. Between 2002 and 2016, an average 6.21 percent increase in vegetation cover of with annual rainfall increasing from 690 to 714.1 mm/year was observed. These results can contribute to a better understanding of the hydrologic processes and better estimation of the return flows and thus guiding management decisions and developments in the UOERRB.