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Volume 22, issue 5 | Copyright
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 22, 2903-2919, 2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 16 May 2018

Research article | 16 May 2018

Time-varying parameter models for catchments with land use change: the importance of model structure

Sahani Pathiraja1,2, Daniela Anghileri3, Paolo Burlando3, Ashish Sharma2, Lucy Marshall2, and Hamid Moradkhani4 Sahani Pathiraja et al.
  • 1Institut für Mathematik, Universität Potsdam, Potsdam, Germany
  • 2Water Research Centre, School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW, Australia
  • 3Institute of Environmental Engineering, ETH Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
  • 4Department of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA

Abstract. Rapid population and economic growth in Southeast Asia has been accompanied by extensive land use change with consequent impacts on catchment hydrology. Modeling methodologies capable of handling changing land use conditions are therefore becoming ever more important and are receiving increasing attention from hydrologists. A recently developed data-assimilation-based framework that allows model parameters to vary through time in response to signals of change in observations is considered for a medium-sized catchment (2880km2) in northern Vietnam experiencing substantial but gradual land cover change. We investigate the efficacy of the method as well as the importance of the chosen model structure in ensuring the success of a time-varying parameter method. The method was used with two lumped daily conceptual models (HBV and HyMOD) that gave good-quality streamflow predictions during pre-change conditions. Although both time-varying parameter models gave improved streamflow predictions under changed conditions compared to the time-invariant parameter model, persistent biases for low flows were apparent in the HyMOD case. It was found that HyMOD was not suited to representing the modified baseflow conditions, resulting in extreme and unrealistic time-varying parameter estimates. This work shows that the chosen model can be critical for ensuring the time-varying parameter framework successfully models streamflow under changing land cover conditions. It can also be used to determine whether land cover changes (and not just meteorological factors) contribute to the observed hydrologic changes in retrospective studies where the lack of a paired control catchment precludes such an assessment.

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Short summary
Hydrologic modeling methodologies must be developed that are capable of predicting runoff in catchments with changing land cover conditions. This article investigates the efficacy of a recently developed approach that allows for runoff prediction in catchments with unknown land cover changes, through experimentation in a deforested catchment in Vietnam. The importance of key elements of the method in ensuring its success, such as the chosen hydrologic model, is investigated.
Hydrologic modeling methodologies must be developed that are capable of predicting runoff in...