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Assessing multidecadal runoff (1970–2010) using regional hydrological modelling under data and water scarcity conditions in Peruvian Pacific catchments

Rau, Pedro, Bourrel, Luc, Labat, David, Ruelland, Denis, Frappart, Frédéric, Lavado, Waldo, Dewitte, Boris, Felipe, Oscar
Hydrological processes 2019 v.33 no.1 pp. 20-35
arid lands, climate, freshwater, hydrologic models, hysteresis, runoff, water shortages, watersheds, Pacific Ocean, Peru
In a context of water scarcity in Peruvian Pacific catchments as a crucial issue for Peru, added to the paucity of data availability, we propose a methodology that provides new perspectives for freshwater availability estimation as a base reference for unimpaired conditions. Under those considerations, a regional discharge of 709 m³/s to the Pacific Ocean is estimated with a significant increasing trend of about 43 m³/s per decade over the 1970–2010 period. To represent the multidecadal behaviour of freshwater runoff along the region, a regional runoff analysis is proposed based on hydrological modelling at annual and monthly time step for unimpaired conditions over the whole 1970–2010 period. Differential Split‐Sample Tests are used to assess the hydrological modelling robustness of the GR1A and GR2M conceptual lumped models, showing a satisfactory transposability from dry to wet years inside the thresholds defined for Nash–Sutcliffe and bias criteria. This allowed relating physical catchment characteristics with calibrated and validated model parameters, thus offering a regional perspective for dryland conditions in the study area (e.g., the anticlockwise hysteresis relationship found for seasonal precipitation–runoff relationship) as well as the impacts of climate variability and catchment characteristics.