Predicting daily flows in ungauged catchments: Model regionalization from catchment descriptors at the Coweeta Hydrologic Laboratory, North Carolina

Teemu S. Kokkonen, Anthony J. Jakeman*, Peter C. Young, Harri J. Koivusalo

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    195 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Regionalization approaches to daily streamflow prediction are investigated for 13 catchments in the Coweeta Hydrologic Laboratory using a conceptual rainfall-runoff model of low complexity (six parameters). Model parameters are considered to represent the dynamic response characteristics (DRCs) of a catchment. It is demonstrated that all catchments within the region cannot be assumed to have a similar hydrological behaviour, and thence a regionalization approach considering differences in physical catchment descriptors (PCDs) is required. Such a regionalization approach can be regarded as a top-down method, in the sense that factors controlling parameter variability are identified first within the entire region under study, and then such information is exploited to predict runoff in a smaller sub-region. Regionalization results reveal that consideration of interrelations between dependent variables, which here are the parameters of the rainfall-runoff model, can improve performance of regression as a regionalization method. Breaking the parameter correlation structure inherent in the model, and exploiting merely relationships between model parameters and PCDs (no matter how weakly related they are), can result in a significant decrease in regionalization performance. Also, high significance of regression between values of PCDs and DRCs does not guarantee a set of parameters with a good predictive power. When there is a reason to believe that, in the sense of hydrological behaviour, a gauged catchment resembles the ungauged catchment, then it may be worthwhile to adopt the entire set of calibrated parameters from the gauged catchment instead of deriving quantitative relationships between catchment descriptors and model parameters.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)2219-2238
    Number of pages20
    JournalHydrological Processes
    Volume17
    Issue number11
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 15 Aug 2003

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