Main content area

Water balance modeling over variable time scales based on the Budyko framework - Model development and testing

Zhang, Lu, Potter, Nick, Hickel, Klaus, Zhang, Yongqiang, Shao, Quanxi
Journal of hydrology 2008 v.360 no.1-4 pp. 117-131
water balance, precipitation, evapotranspiration, runoff, temporal variation, diurnal variation, stream flow, watershed hydrology, watersheds, hydrologic models, Australia
Partitioning of precipitation into evapotranspiration and runoff is controlled by climate and catchment characteristics. The degree of control exerted by these factors varies with the spatial and temporal scales of processes modeled. The Budyko framework or the “limits” concept was used to model water balance at four temporal scales (mean annual, annual, monthly and daily). The method represents a top-down approach to hydrologic modeling and is expected to achieve parsimony of model parameters. Daily precipitation, potential evapotranspiration, and streamflow from 265 catchments in Australia were used. On a mean annual basis, the index of dryness defined as the ratio of potential evapotranspiration to precipitation was confirmed to be a dominant factor in determining the water balance with one model parameter. Analysis of the data, however, suggested increased model complexity is necessary on finer time scale such as monthly. In response, the Budyko framework for mean annual water balance was extended to include additional factors and this resulted in a parsimonious lumped conceptual model on shorter-time scale. The model was calibrated and tested against measured streamflow at variable time scales and showed promising results. The strengths of the model are consistent water balance relationships across different time scales, and model parsimony and robustness. As result, the model has the potential to be used to predict streamflow for ungauged catchments.