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Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2018-469
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2018-469
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 22 Oct 2018

Research article | 22 Oct 2018

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (HESS).

Sensitivity of hydrological model to the temporal and spatial resolutions of rainfall input

Yingchun Huang1, András Bárdossy2, and Ke Zhang1,3 Yingchun Huang et al.
  • 1College of Hydrology and Water Resources, Hohai University, Nanjing 210098, China
  • 2Institute for Modelling Hydraulic and Environmental Engineering, University of Stuttgart, Stuttgart D-70596, Germany
  • 3State Key Laboratory of Hydrology–Water Resources and Hydraulic Engineering, Hohai University, Nanjing 210098, China

Abstract. As the most important input for rainfall-runoff models, precipitation is usually observed at specific sites on a daily or sub-daily time scale and requires interpolation for further application. This study aims to explore that for a given objective function, whether a higher temporal and spatial resolution of precipitation could provide an improvement in model performance. Four different gridded hourly and daily precipitation datasets, with a spatial resolution of 1km*1km for the Baden-Wurttemberg state of Germany, were constructed using a combination of data from a dense network of daily rainfall stations and a less dense network of pluviometers with high temporal-resolution rainfall observations. Two different flavors of HBV models with different model structures, lumped and spatially distributed, were used to test the sensitivity of model performance on the spatial resolution of precipitation. For four selected mesoscale catchments located at the upstream region of Baden-Wurttemberg, these four precipitation datasets were used to simulate the daily discharges using both lumped and semi-distributed HBV models. Different possibilities of improving the accuracy of daily streamflow prediction were investigated. Three main results were obtained from this study: (1) a higher temporal resolution of precipitation improved the model performance if the observation density was high; (2) a combination of observed high temporal-resolution observations with disaggregated daily precipitation leads to a further improvement in the model performance; (3) for the present research, the increase of spatial resolution improved the performance of the model insubstantially or only marginally for most of the study catchments.

Yingchun Huang et al.
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Yingchun Huang et al.
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Short summary
This study investigates whether a higher temporal and spatial resolution of precipitation could provide an improvement in model performance. Results show that: a higher temporal resolution of rainfall improved the model performance if the observation density was high; a combination of observed high temporal-resolution observations with disaggregated daily rainfall leads to a further improvement; for the present work, the increase of spatial resolution improved the model insubstantially.
This study investigates whether a higher temporal and spatial resolution of precipitation could...
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