Dynamic TOPMODEL: A new implementation in R and its sensitivity to time and space steps

Peter Metcalfe*, Keith Beven, Jim Freer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)
776 Downloads (Pure)


In 2001, Beven and Freer introduced a "dynamic" variant of TOPMODEL that addressed some of the limitations of the original model whilst retaining its computational and parametric efficiency. The original assumption of a quasi-steady water table was replaced by time-dependent kinematic routing within hydrological similar areas. The new formulation allows a more flexible discretisation, variable upslope drainage areas and spatially variable physical properties.

There has, however, never been a freely distributable version of dynamic TOPMODEL. Here, we describe a new, open source, version developed in the R environment. It incorporates handling of geo-referenced spatial data that allows it to integrate with modern GIS. It makes use of data storage and vectorisation features of the language that will allow efficient scaling of the problem domain.

The implementation is evaluated with data from a small catchment. The formulation of the model in terms of a flow distribution matrix is described and its use illustrated for treatment of surface and subsurface flow routing. The model uses an improved implicit solution for updating the subsurface storages and fluxes. The paper focuses on the robustness of the predicted output variables to changes in the time and space discretisations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)155-172
Number of pages18
JournalEnvironmental Modelling and Software
Early online date28 Jul 2015
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2015


  • Distributed hydrological model
  • Dynamic TOPMODEL
  • Gwy
  • Plynlimon
  • R

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