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Integrating different types of information into hydrological model parameter estimation: Application to ungauged catchments and land use scenario analysis

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Greg O'Donnell



In hydrological modeling, two areas of application present particular challenges, first the modeling of ungauged catchments, and second the modeling of catchment nonstationarity; for example due to effects of land use change. The ungauged catchment problem requires that prior knowledge of the catchment is combined with evidence of behavior; for example from a regionalization exercise and/or spot flow measurements. Simulation of the effects of land use change requires that prior knowledge of the catchment is combined with information on the effects of that change on model parameters, generally in the absence of direct observations with which to condition the parameters. In both cases, ideally, all available sources of information about the behavior should be considered, and integrated in a way that maximizes the value of the information for model identification and uncertainty estimation. Using a formal Bayesian procedure, we combine three different sources of knowledge into a catchment scale conceptual model: (1) small-scale physical properties; (2) regionalized signatures of flow; and (3) available flow measurements. Applying the methodology to a distributed model for the Hodder catchment, UK, the physics-based information source contributed most to improving model performance, followed by peak flow times, and lastly the regionalized signatures. The flood frequency curve was evaluated under scenarios of land use change, and those changes that were significant relative to model uncertainty were identified.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Bulygina N, Ballard C, McIntyre N, O'Donnell G, Wheater H

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Water Resources Research

Year: 2012

Volume: 48

Print publication date: 15/06/2012

Date deposited: 20/01/2014

ISSN (print): 0043-1397

ISSN (electronic): 1944-7973

Publisher: American Geophysical Union


DOI: 10.1029/2011WR011207


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Funder referenceFunder name
EP/F020511/1Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council
NE/F001134/1Natural Environment Research Council