Beven (2021) The Era of Infiltration

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Beven, K.: The era of infiltration, Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 25, 851–866,, 2021.


Inspired by a quotation from Howard Cook in 1946, this paper traces the evolution of the infiltration theory of runoff from the work of Robert Horton and LeRoy Sherman in the 1930s to the early digital computer models of the 1970s and 1980s. The reasons for the popularity of the infiltration theory are considered and its impact on the way in which hydrological responses were perceived by several generations of hydrologists. Reconsideration of the perceptual model for many catchments, partly as a result of the greater appreciation of the contribution of subsurface flows to the hydrograph indicated by tracer studies, suggests a more precise utilisation of hydrological terms and, in particular, that the use of runoff and surface runoff should be avoided.



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