Evaluation of an ensemble of regional hydrological models in 12 large-scale river basins worldwide

Climatic Change | Huan et al. [2016]

Abstract

In regional climate impact studies, good performance of regional models under present/historical climate conditions is a prerequisite for reliable future projections. This study aims to investigate the overall performance of 9 hydrological models for 12 large-scale river basins worldwide driven by the reanalysis climate data from the Water and Global Change (WATCH) project. The results serve as the basis of the application of regional hydrological models for climate impact assessment within the second phase of the Inter-Sectoral Impact Model Intercomparison project (ISI-MIP2). The simulated discharges by each individual hydrological model, as well as the ensemble mean and median series were compared against the observed discharges for the period 1971–2001. In addition to a visual comparison, 12 statistical criteria were selected to assess the fidelity of model simulations for monthly hydrograph, seasonal dynamics, flow duration curves, extreme floods and low flows. The results show that most regional hydrological models reproduce monthly discharge and seasonal dynamics successfully in all basins except the Darling in Australia. The moderate flow and high flows (0.02–0.1 flow exceedance probabilities) are also captured satisfactory in many cases according to the performance ratings defined in this study. In contrast, the simulation of low flow is problematic for most basins. Overall, the ensemble discharge statistics exhibited good agreement with the observed ones except for extremes in particular basins that need further scrutiny to improve representation of hydrological processes. The performances of both the conceptual and process-based models are comparable in all basins.

Full text can be found here.

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