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Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2016-462
© Author(s) 2016. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
27 Sep 2016
Review status
A revision of this discussion paper was accepted for the journal Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (HESS) and is expected to appear here in due course.
Simulating cold-region hydrology in an intensively drained agricultural watershed in Manitoba, Canada, using the Cold Regions Hydrological Model
Marcos R. C. Cordeiro1, Henry F. Wilson2, Jason Vanrobaeys3, John W. Pomeroy4, and Xing Fang4 1Science and Technology Branch, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, 200-303 Main Street, Winnipeg, MB, R3C 3G7
2Science and Technology Branch, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, 2701 Grand Valley Rd., Brandon, MB, R7A 5Y3
3Science and Technology Branch, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, 101 Route 100, Morden, MB, R6M 1Y5
4Centre for Hydrology, University of Saskatchewan, 117 Science Place, Saskatoon, SK, S7N 5C8
Abstract. Eutrophication and flooding are perennial problems in agricultural watersheds of the northern Great Plains. A high proportion of annual runoff and nutrient transport occurs with snowmelt in this region. Extensive surface drainage modification, frozen soils, and frequent backwater or ice damming impacts on flow measurement represent unique challenges to accurately modeling watershed scale hydrological processes. A physically-based, non-calibrated model created using the Cold Regions Hydrological Modelling platform (CRHM) was parameterized to simulate hydrological processes within a low slope, clay soil, and intensively surface drained agricultural watershed. These characteristics are common to most tributaries of the Red River of the North. Analysis of the observed water level records for the study watershed (La Salle River) indicate that ice cover and backwater issues at time of peak flow may impact the accuracy of both modeled and measured stream flows, highlighting the value of evaluating a non-calibrated model in this environment. Simulations best matched the streamflow record in years when peak and annual discharges were equal to or above the medians of 6.7 m3 s−1 and 1.25 × 107 m3, respectively, with an average Nash-Sutcliff efficiency (NSE) of 0.76. Simulation of low-flow years (below the medians) was more challenging (average NSE < 0) with simulated discharge overestimated by 90 % on average. This result indicates the need for improved understanding of hydrological response in the watershed under drier conditions. Improved simulation of dry years was achieved when infiltration was allowed prior to soil thaw indicating the potential importance of preferential flow. Representation of in-channel dynamics and travel time under the flooded or ice-jam conditions should also receive attention in further model development efforts. Despite the complexities of the watershed being modeled, simulations of flow for average to high flow years and other components of the water balance were robust [snow water equivalency (SWE) and soil moisture]. A sensitivity analysis of the flow routing model suggests a need for improved understanding of watershed functions under both dry and flooded conditions due to dynamic routing conditions, but overall CRHM is appropriate for simulation of hydrological processes in agricultural watersheds of the Red River. Falsifications of snow sublimation, snow transport, and infiltration to frozen soils processes in the validated base model indicate that these processes were very influential to stream discharge generation.

Citation: Cordeiro, M. R. C., Wilson, H. F., Vanrobaeys, J., Pomeroy, J. W., and Fang, X.: Simulating cold-region hydrology in an intensively drained agricultural watershed in Manitoba, Canada, using the Cold Regions Hydrological Model, Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci. Discuss., https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2016-462, in review, 2016.
Marcos R. C. Cordeiro et al.
Interactive discussionStatus: closed
AC: Author comment | RC: Referee comment | SC: Short comment | EC: Editor comment
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SC1: 'MSc student review', Jan Seibert, 07 Dec 2016 Printer-friendly Version Supplement 
AC1: 'SC1 Reply', Henry Wilson, 28 Jan 2017 Printer-friendly Version Supplement 
 
RC1: 'Review', Anonymous Referee #1, 12 Dec 2016 Printer-friendly Version 
AC2: 'RC1 Relpy', Henry Wilson, 28 Jan 2017 Printer-friendly Version Supplement 
 
RC2: 'comments on hess-2016-462', Anonymous Referee #2, 01 Jan 2017 Printer-friendly Version 
AC3: 'RC2 Reply', Henry Wilson, 28 Jan 2017 Printer-friendly Version Supplement 
Marcos R. C. Cordeiro et al.
Marcos R. C. Cordeiro et al.

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Short summary
The physically-based Cold Regions Hydrological Model (CRHM) was utilized to simulate runoff in the La Salle River, located in the Northern Great Plains with flat topography, clay soils, and surface drainage. Snow sublimation and transport as well as infiltration to frozen soils where identified as critical in defining snowmelt. Challenges in representing infiltration into frozen, but dry clay soils and flow routing under both dry and flooded conditions indicate the need for further study.
The physically-based Cold Regions Hydrological Model (CRHM) was utilized to simulate runoff in...
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