Hydrologic model comparison in support of water resources planning and operations studies

Project ID: 1894
Principal Investigator: Daniel Broman
Research Topic: Water Operation Models and Decision Support Systems
Funded Fiscal Years: 2018 and 2019
Keywords: None

Research Question

This project seeks to identify what hydrology model most appropriately simulates streamflow in the St Mary and Milk River basins, which contain both snowmelt dominated mountain sub-watersheds and lower elevation prairie sub-watersheds. The most appropriate model will be identified through a comparison of hydrology models in three ways – a) comparison of simulated water balance variables to VIC, as the current default hydrology model, b) comparison of simulated routed streamflow to observations, and c) assessment of model sensitivity to changes in precipitation and temperature.

Need and Benefit

Hydrologic model selection in water resources planning studies is often based on subjective criteria and personal preference or experience of the modeler. Use of model selection criteria not based on physical processes may lead to misinformation and less than optimal results for a hydrologic modeling study. The availability of a range of hydrologic models for the St Mary and Milk River watershed provides a unique opportunity to evaluate their water balance parameters against each other, and in comparison with available observations, and to make a more informed model selection. In addition, Reclamation seeks to improve methods and tools from a previously completed basin study (2012) to perform further analysis on water supply and demand in this region and to evaluate strategies for reducing potential imbalances.

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.

Hydrologic model comparison in support of water resources planning and operations studies (final, PDF, 1.5MB)
By Dan Broman
Research Product completed on August 15, 2020

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

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Last Updated: 6/22/20