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Comparing model complexity for glacio-hydrological simulation in the data-scarce Peruvian Andes


Muñoz, Randy; Huggel, Christian; Drenkhan, Fabian; Vis, Marc; Viviroli, Daniel (2021). Comparing model complexity for glacio-hydrological simulation in the data-scarce Peruvian Andes. Journal of Hydrology, 37:100932.

Abstract

Study region

Glaciated headwaters of the Vilcanota-Urubamba river basin, Southern Peru

Study focus

A pivotal question is if robust hydrological simulation of streamflow in data-scarce and glaciated catchments can be achieved using parsimonious or more complex models. Therefore, a multi-model assessment of three glacio-hydrological models of different complexity was conducted thoroughly analyzing model performance, flow signatures and runoff components.

New hydrological insights for the region

In data-scarce catchments, such as in the tropical Andes, parsimonious glacio-hydrological models can provide more robust results than complex models. While the overall performance of all models was reasonably good (R2: 0.65–0.70, Nash-Sutcliffe: 0.65–0.73, Nash-Sutcliffe-ln: 0.73–0.78), with increasing data scarcity more complex models involve higher uncertainties. Furthermore, complex models require substantial understanding of the underpinning hydrological processes and a comprehensive calibration strategy to avoid apparently high model performance driven by inadequate assumptions. Based on these insights we present a framework for robust glacio-hydrological simulation under data scarcity. This stepwise approach includes, among others, a multi-model focus with a comprehensive assessment of flow signatures and runoff components. Future modeling needs to be further supported by alternative data collection strategies to substantially improve knowledge and process understanding. Therefore, the extension of sensor and station networks combined with the integration of co-produced knowledge represents a meaningful measure to robust decision-making for climate change adaptation and water management under high uncertainty.

Abstract

Study region

Glaciated headwaters of the Vilcanota-Urubamba river basin, Southern Peru

Study focus

A pivotal question is if robust hydrological simulation of streamflow in data-scarce and glaciated catchments can be achieved using parsimonious or more complex models. Therefore, a multi-model assessment of three glacio-hydrological models of different complexity was conducted thoroughly analyzing model performance, flow signatures and runoff components.

New hydrological insights for the region

In data-scarce catchments, such as in the tropical Andes, parsimonious glacio-hydrological models can provide more robust results than complex models. While the overall performance of all models was reasonably good (R2: 0.65–0.70, Nash-Sutcliffe: 0.65–0.73, Nash-Sutcliffe-ln: 0.73–0.78), with increasing data scarcity more complex models involve higher uncertainties. Furthermore, complex models require substantial understanding of the underpinning hydrological processes and a comprehensive calibration strategy to avoid apparently high model performance driven by inadequate assumptions. Based on these insights we present a framework for robust glacio-hydrological simulation under data scarcity. This stepwise approach includes, among others, a multi-model focus with a comprehensive assessment of flow signatures and runoff components. Future modeling needs to be further supported by alternative data collection strategies to substantially improve knowledge and process understanding. Therefore, the extension of sensor and station networks combined with the integration of co-produced knowledge represents a meaningful measure to robust decision-making for climate change adaptation and water management under high uncertainty.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography
Dewey Decimal Classification:910 Geography & travel
Scopus Subject Areas:Physical Sciences > Water Science and Technology
Physical Sciences > Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous), Water Science and Technology
Language:English
Date:1 October 2021
Deposited On:02 Dec 2021 13:58
Last Modified:26 Jun 2024 01:45
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0022-1694
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ejrh.2021.100932
  • Content: Published Version
  • Language: English
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)