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Study on Applicability of Conceptual Hydrological Models for Flood Forecasting in Humid, Semi-Humid Semi-Arid and Arid Basins in China

Kan, Guangyuan, He, Xiaoyan, Ding, Liuqian, Li, Jiren, Liang, Ke, Hong, Yang
Water 2017 v.9 no.10
arid zones, basins, disasters, equations, hydrologic models, mathematical theory, meteorological data, runoff, statistical analysis, watersheds, China
Flood simulation and forecasting in various types of watersheds is a hot issue in hydrology. Conceptual hydrological models have been widely applied to flood forecasting for decades. With the development of economy, modern China faces with severe flood disasters in all types of watersheds include humid, semi-humid semi-arid and arid watersheds. However, conceptual model-based flood forecasting in semi-humid semi-arid and arid regions is still challenging. To investigate the applicability of conceptual hydrological models for flood forecasting in the above mentioned regions, three typical conceptual models, include Xinanjiang (XAJ), mix runoff generation (MIX) and northern Shannxi (NS), are applied to 3 humid, 3 semi-humid semi-arid, and 3 arid watersheds. The rainfall-runoff data of the 9 watersheds are analyzed based on statistical analysis and information theory, and the model performances are compared and analyzed based on boxplots and scatter plots. It is observed the complexity of drier watershed data is higher than that of the wetter watersheds. This indicates the flood forecasting is harder in drier watersheds. Simulation results indicate all models perform satisfactorily in humid watersheds and only NS model is applicable in arid watersheds. Model with consideration of saturation excess runoff generation (XAJ and MIX) perform better than the infiltration excess-based NS model in semi-humid semi-arid watersheds. It is concluded more accurate mix runoff generation theory, more stable and efficient numerical solution of infiltration equation and rainfall data with higher spatial-temporal resolution are main obstacles for conceptual model-based flood simulation and forecasting.