Effect of year-to-year variability of leaf area index on variable infiltration capacity model performance and simulation of streamflow during drought
Z. K. Tesemma, Y. Wei, M. C. Peel, and A. W. Western
Department of Infrastructure Engineering, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria, 3010, Australia
Received: 12 Aug 2014 – Accepted for review: 01 Sep 2014 – Discussion started: 23 Sep 2014
Abstract. This study assessed the effect of using observed monthly leaf area index (LAI) on hydrologic model performance and the simulation of streamflow during drought using the variable infiltration capacity (VIC) hydrological model in the Goulburn–Broken catchment of Australia, which has heterogeneous vegetation, soil and climate zones. VIC was calibrated with both observed monthly LAI and long-term mean monthly LAI, which were derived from the Global Land Surface Satellite (GLASS) observed monthly LAI dataset covering the period from 1982 to 2012. The model performance under wet and dry climates for the two different LAI inputs was assessed using three criteria, the classical Nash–Sutcliffe efficiency, the logarithm transformed flow Nash–Sutcliffe efficiency and the percentage bias. Finally, the percentage deviation of the simulated monthly streamflow using the observed monthly LAI from simulated streamflow using long-term mean monthly LAI was computed. The VIC model predicted monthly streamflow in the selected sub-catchments with model efficiencies ranging from 61.5 to 95.9% during calibration (1982–1997) and 59 to 92.4% during validation (1998–2012). Our results suggest systematic improvements from 4 to 25% in the Nash–Sutcliffe efficiency in pasture dominated catchments when the VIC model was calibrated with the observed monthly LAI instead of the long-term mean monthly LAI. There was limited systematic improvement in tree dominated catchments. The results also suggest that the model overestimation or underestimation of streamflow during wet and dry periods can be reduced to some extent by including the year-to-year variability of LAI in the model, thus reflecting the responses of vegetation to fluctuations in climate and other factors. Hence, the year-to-year variability in LAI should not be neglected; rather it should be included in model calibration as well as simulation of monthly water balance.
Tesemma, Z. K., Wei, Y., Peel, M. C., and Western, A. W.: Effect of year-to-year variability of leaf area index on variable infiltration capacity model performance and simulation of streamflow during drought, Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci. Discuss., 11, 10515-10552, doi:10.5194/hessd-11-10515-2014, 2014.