Improve parameter estimates in national-domain hydrologic models (UCAR NCAR, Clark)

Project ID: 1614
Principal Investigator: Kenneth Nowak
Research Topic: Water Operation Models and Decision Support Systems
Funded Fiscal Years: 2016 and 2017
Keywords: None

Research Question

How can we develop physically realistic and spatially consistent parameter estimates for multiple hydrologic models across continental domains?

Need and Benefit

A national-domain hydrologic model is needed to provide a consistent spatial assessment of changes in hydrologic conditions and support basin and regional studies. A key challenge is to define model parameters that adequately represent the physical properties of the landscape (e.g., parameters that define the storage and transmission properties of soil). Typically model parameters are estimated individually for each basin through model calibration, though application of traditional calibration methods can result in compensatory errors across different parts of the model – the right answers for the wrong reasons – and individual basin calibration efforts create substantial difficulties in transferring model parameters across space [Clark and Vrugt 2006; Kirchner 2006; Blöschl et al. 2013]. Taken to its extreme, individual basin calibration efforts can create a "patchwork quilt" of spatial parameter maps that contaminate spatial assessment of changes in hydrologic conditions. This project directly addresses this research challenge by developing physically realistic and spatially consistent parameter estimates for multiple hydrologic models across continental domains.

Contributing Partners

Contact the Principal Investigator for information about partners.

Research Products

Bureau of Reclamation Review

The following documents were reviewed by experts in fields relating to this project's study and findings. The results were determined to be achieved using valid means.

Removing Artificial Barriers in Nationwide Hydrologic Simulations (final, PDF, 933KB)
By Kenneth Nowak
Publication completed on September 30, 2016

This research product summarizes the research results and potential application to Reclamation's mission.


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Last Updated: 4/4/17