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Evaluation of the SWAT model for water balance study of a mountainous snowfed river basin of Nepal

Dhami, Birsingh, Himanshu, SushilKumar, Pandey, Ashish, Gautam, AmarKant
Environmental earth sciences 2018 v.77 no.1 pp. 21
Snowmelt Runoff Model, Soil and Water Assessment Tool model, atmospheric precipitation, base flow, basins, evapotranspiration, mountains, planning, rivers, runoff, snowmelt, water management, watersheds, Nepal
In this study, a semi-distributed hydrologic model Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) has been employed for the Karnali River basin, Nepal to test its applicability for hydrological simulation. Further, model was evaluated to carry out the water balance study of the basin and to determine the snowmelt contribution in the river flow. Snowmelt Runoff Model (SRM) was also used to compare the snowmelt runoff simulated from the SWAT model. The statistical results show that performance of the SWAT model in the Karnali River basin is quite good (p-factor = 0.88 and 0.88, for daily calibration and validation, respectively; r-factor = 0.76 and 0.71, for daily calibration and validation, respectively). Baseflow alpha factor (ALPHA_BF) was found most sensitive parameter for the flow simulation. The study revealed that the average annual runoff volume available at the basin outlet is about 47.16 billion cubic metre out of which about 12% of runoff volume is contributed by the snowmelt runoff. About 25% of annual precipitation seems to be lost as evapotranspiration. The results revealed that both the models, SWAT and SRM, can be efficiently applied in the mountainous river basins of Nepal for planning and management of water resources.