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Parameter uncertainty of the AWBM model when applied to an ungauged catchment

Haque, Md Mahmudul, Rahman, Ataur, Hagare, Dharma, Kibria, Golam
Hydrological processes 2015 v.29 no.6 pp. 1493-1504
algorithms, data collection, equations, hydrologic models, meteorological data, parameter uncertainty, prediction, runoff, water balance, watersheds, Australia
In this study, a quantitative assessment of uncertainty was made in connection with the calibration of Australian Water Balance Model (AWBM) for both gauged and ungauged catchment cases. For the gauged catchment, five different rainfall data sets, 23 different calibration data lengths and eight different optimization techniques were adopted. For the ungauged catchment case, the optimum parameter sets obtained from the nearest gauged catchment were transposed to the ungauged catchments, and two regional prediction equations were used to estimate runoff. Uncertainties were ascertained by comparing the observed and modelled runoffs by the AWBM on the basis of different combinations of methods, model parameters and input data. The main finding from this study was that the uncertainties in the AWBM modelling outputs could vary from −1.3% to 70% owing to different input rainfall data, −5.7% to 11% owing to different calibration data lengths and −6% to 0.2% owing to different optimization techniques adopted in the calibration of the AWBM. The performance of the AWBM model was found to be dominated mainly by the selection of appropriate rainfall data followed by the selection of an appropriate calibration data length and optimization algorithm. Use of relatively short data length (e.g. 3 to 6 years) in the calibration was found to generate relatively poor results. Effects of different optimization techniques on the calibration were found to be minimal. The uncertainties reported here in relation to the calibration and runoff estimation by the AWBM model are relevant to the selected study catchments, which are likely to differ for other catchments. The methodology presented in this paper can be applied to other catchments in Australia and other countries using AWBM and similar rainfall–runoff models.