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The value of multiple dataset calibration versus model complexity for improving the performance of hydrological models in mountain catchments


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The assessment of snow, glacier and rainfall runoff contribution to discharge in mountain streams is of major importance for an adequate water resource management. Such contributions can be estimated via hydrological models, provided that the modeling adequately accounts for snow and glacier melt, as well as rainfall runoff. We present a multi-dataset calibration approach to estimate runoff composition using hydrological models with three levels of complexity. For this purpose the code of the conceptual runoff model HBV-light was enhanced to allow calibration and validation of simulations against glacier mass balances, satellite-derived snow cover area and measured discharge. Three levels of complexity of the model were applied to glacierized catchments in Switzerland, ranging from 39km2 to 103km2. The results indicate that all three observational datasets are reproduced adequately by the model, allowing an accurate estimation of the runoff composition in the three mountain streams. However, calibration against only runoff leads to unrealistic snow and glacier melt rates. Based on these results we recommend using all three observational datasets in order to constrain model parameters and compute snow, glacier and rain contributions. Finally, based on the comparison of model performance of different complexities we postulate that the availability and use of different datasets to calibrate hydrological models might be more important than model complexity to achieve realistic estimations of runoff composition. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
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The value of multiple data set calibration versus model
complexity for improving the performance of hydrological
models in mountain catchments
David Finger
, Marc Vis
, Matthias Huss
, and Jan Seibert
School of Science and Engineering, Reykjavik University, Reykjavik, Iceland,
Icelandic Meteorological Office, Reykjavik,
Department of Geography, University of Zurich, Switzerland,
Laboratory of Hydraulics, Hydrology and
Glaciology (VAW), ETH Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland,
Department of Earth Sciences, Uppsala University, Sweden
Abstract The assessment of snow, glacier, and rainfall runoff contribution to discharge in mountain
streams is of major importance for an adequate water resource management. Such contributions can be
estimated via hydrological models, provided that the modeling adequately accounts for snow and glacier
melt, as well as rainfall runoff. We present a multiple data set calibration approach to estimate runoff com-
position using hydrological models with three levels of complexity. For this purpose, the code of the con-
ceptual runoff model HBV-light was enhanced to allow calibration and validation of simulations against
glacier mass balances, satellite-derived snow cover area and measured discharge. Three levels of complexity
of the model were applied to glacierized catchments in Switzerland, ranging from 39 to 103 km
. The results
indicate that all three observational data sets are reproduced adequately by the model, allowing an accu-
rate estimation of the runoff composition in the three mountain streams. However, calibration against only
runoff leads to unrealistic snow and glacier melt rates. Based on these results, we recommend using all
three observational data sets in order to constrain model parameters and compute snow, glacier, and rain
contributions. Finally, based on the comparison of model performance of different complexities, we postu-
late that the availability and use of different data sets to calibrate hydrological models might be more
important than model complexity to achieve realistic estimations of runoff composition.
1. Introduction
The contribution of snow melt, glacier, melt and rain to runoff in mountain streams is of major impor-
tance for water resource management as climate variability and change is expected to impact on all three
components [e.g., Crochet, 2013; Kumar et al., 2007; Rathore et al., 2009]. While glaciers are retreating
worldwide, the snow cover duration in winter becomes shorter and precipitation events are expected to
intensify [IPCC, 2013]. Besides climate change impact studies, hydrologic models are also used for a wide
variety of practical purposes, such as flood forecasting, environmental impact assessments, and seasonal
water availability estimations to mention just a few. For such purposes, hydrological models can provide
a realistic estimate of the contribution of snow, glacier, and rainfall runoff in mountain streams, provided
that they have been calibrated and validated adequately. Yet hydrological modeling faces two main chal-
lenges [Grayson et al., 2002]: (i) uncertainty in observational data for calibration and validation purposes
and (ii) model uncertainty due to the simplification of natural processes expressed in model structure and
parameter uncertainty.
Tremendous progress has been achieved over the last decades in making observational data more accurate
and reliable. Accuracy of discharge measurements has been improved using remotely controlled gauging
stations equipped with current profilers [Muste et al., 2004], spatially distributed meteorological patterns are
observed with satellites and weather radars [Borga, 2002; Xie and Arkin, 1996], and catchment characteristics
of land cover and soil properties have been mapped worldwide [McBratney et al., 2003]. Nevertheless, for
remote headwaters, data availability is frequently limited and subject to uncertainty due to icing, intense
snow fall, and channel instability at the gauging station. In these areas estimations of snow, glacier, and
rainfall, runoff contribution frequently have to be based on limited data availability, sometimes relying on
only 1 year of accurate data.
Key Points:
Calibration with multiple data sets
increases overall performance
Snow cover information should be
used for calibration
Model complexity alone does not
enhance model accuracy
Correspondence to:
D. Finger,
Finger, D., M. Vis, M. Huss, and
J. Seibert (2015), The value of multiple
data set calibration versus model
complexity for improving the
performance of hydrological models in
mountain catchments, Water Resour.
Res.,51, doi:10.1002/2014WR015712.
Received 14 APR 2014
Accepted 8 FEB 2015
Accepted article online 24 FEB 2015
C2015. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved. 1
Water Resources Research
Likewise to the progress in collecting observational data sets intense research has been conducted in optimiz-
ing the complexity of hydrological models. Model complexity refers to the level of detail in process represen-
tations [e.g., Grayson et al., 1992; Johnson et al., 2003; Vrugt et al., 2002], the spatial discretization of a
catchment [e.g., Kirnbauer et al., 1994; Refsgaard and Knudsen,1996;van der Linden and Woo,2003],oracom-
bination of these two aspects. Over 20 years ago Jakeman and Hornberger [1993] already investigated the
level of complexity necessary for accurate rainfall-runoff simulation, basing their analysis mainly on discharge
efficiency. A particular challenge during calibration of hydrological models is the equifinality as discussed in
numerous studies [e.g., Beven, 1996; Beven and Binley, 1992; Shen et al., 2012]. Accordingly, many authors have
investigated possibilities to use additional data sets to constrain model parameters [e.g., Ambroise et al., 1995;
Kuczera and Mroczkowski, 1998; Refsgaard, 1997]. Nevertheless, investigations of model performance of rainfall
runoff models used in different countries indicate that the calibration method is more important than model
complexity [Gan et al., 1997]. Perrin et al. [2001] concluded that models have been developed with excessive
confidence and that model structure is not always able to extract information from available runoff time
series. Further attempts to reduce the equifinality by including additional processes into hydrological models
have exacerbated the equifinality problem due to the addition of more parameters that require calibration
[Beven, 2006]. Kirchner [2006] argued that scientific progress should focus on the customization of data avail-
ability to theory, rather than toward increased model complexity. Only recently McMillan et al.[2011]sug-
gested that different sources of field data should be used to optimize the hydrological processes within a
hydrological model. Indeed, when lumped calibration strategies are used, semi-distributed models yield
higher performance than fully distributed models [Khakbaz et al., 2012]. Hence, the discussion on appropriate
model complexity for runoff modeling is still ongoing [Cunderlik et al., 2013].
Research on estimations of snow, ice, and rain runoff contributions to discharge in mountainous regions
has focused on using multiple data sets to enhance the consistent estimation regarding different water
sources. Parajka and Bl
oschl [2008] showed that the additional use of satellite snow cover images during cal-
ibration can improve both snow cover and discharge simulations. Fleming et al. [2010] used glacier equilib-
rium line observations to constrain snow melt-glacier melt partitioning at high elevations, Nolin et al. [2010]
constrained a runoff model using stable isotope data and glacier melt observations, and Schaefli and Huss
[2011] used seasonal point glacier mass balances to calibrate a conceptual model. Along this line of
research Konz and Seibert [2010] employed annual mass balances, Jost et al. [2012a] used repeated glacier
mapping and Mayr et al. [2013] used seasonal and winter mass balances to constrain the model parameters
of a conceptual model. Koboltschnig et al. [2008] validated the runoff contribution computed with a concep-
tual model in a glacierized Alpine catchment using discharge, snow cover images, and glacier mass balan-
ces. Finger et al. [2011] demonstrated that the combined use of discharge, snow cover images, and seasonal
glacier mass balances can constrain model parameters of a physically based fully distributed hydrological
model compared to calibration against discharge only, reducing the equifinality significantly. In particular,
satellite snow cover images have increasingly been used in recent years and across the world to constrain
hydrological models [Duethmann et al., 2014; Finger et al., 2012; Franz and Karsten, 2013; Pellicciotti et al.,
2012]. Nevertheless, the question as to whether conceptual lumped models can be consistently calibrated
regarding glacier mass balances, snow cover images, and discharge to estimate snow, ice, and rain runoff
contribution to discharge in mountain streams remains unanswered.
In this study, we assess how 1 year of daily snow cover images, seasonal glacier mass balance data, and
daily runoff can be used to improve the estimation of snow, glacier, and rain contribution in mountain
streams. By using three levels of complexity of a conceptual lumped hydrological model, we complement
the results of a previous study using a physically based, fully distributed hydrological model [Finger et al.,
2011]. We demonstrate the added value of optimizing model performance with the three data sets in
regard to the three model complexity levels. Hence, this study complements previous studies and con-
cludes that more reliable prediction of snow, glacier, and rain contribution to runoff can be achieved if all
three calibration data sets are weighted equally during calibration.
2. Study Sites and Data
We chose three Swiss alpine streams to test our modeling approach (Figure 1): (i) Rhone River at the gaug-
ing station Gletsch, (ii) Hinterrhein River at the village of Hinterrhein, and (iii) Landquart River close to the
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village of Klosters. The Rhonegletscher at the source of the Rhone has been investigated since the end of
the 19th century making it an ideal case study to test novel modeling approaches [Finger et al., 2011; Huss
et al., 2008; Klok et al., 2001; Verbunt et al., 2003]. In 2010, the Rhonegletscher and several smaller glaciers
covered 42.3% of the catchment area (Table 1). The gauging station at Gletsch operated by the Swiss Fed-
eral Office of Environment (FOEN) is located about 2 km southwest of the glacier terminus gauging the dis-
charge from a 38.9 km
catchment area. An automatic weather station operated since 1990 by the Federal
Office of Meteorology and Climatology (MeteoSwiss) is located about 3.5 km west of the glacier. The second
investigated catchment lies in eastern Switzerland and contains the source of the Hinterrhein. The gauging
station operated by FOEN gauges an area of 53.7 km
, of which 6.3% was glacierized in 2009 [Fischer et al.,
2014]. Meteorological data are available from an automatic weather station operated by MeteoSwiss about
1.7 km southeast of the gauging station (Table 1). The third catchment lies at the border of Switzerland and
Austria and contains the Silvrettagletscher, the source of the Landquart River. The gauging station close to
Figure 1. Overview and map of the three study sites: (a) locates the three catchments, Rhone River at Gletsch (i), Hinterrhein River at Hinter-
rhein (ii), and Landquart River at Klosters (iii) within Switzerland; (b), (c), and (d) give an overview of the three catchments. Black dots locate
prominent landmark peaks in the three catchments (in Figure 1b: Galenstock with 3586 m asl; in Figure 1c: Rheinwaldhorn with 3402 m asl;
in Figure 1d: Roggenhorn with 2891 m asl), double circles indicate gauging station and circle with black dot locate meteorological station.
Table 1. Summary of Catchment Characteristics of the Three Study Sites
River Rhone Hinterrhein Landquart
Gauging station Gletsch Hinterrhein Klosters, Auelti
(Location CH 1903) 670810 / 157200 735480 / 154680 790480 / 192690
Data availability 1903–present
Catchment Area 38.9 km
53.7 km
103.0 km
Lowest altitude 1761 m asl 1584 m asl 1317 m asl
Mean altitude 2719 m asl 2360 m asl 2332 m asl
Highest elevation 3630 m asl 3402 m asl 3410 m asl
Glacierization 42.3% (2010) 6.3% (2009) 4.5% (2008)
Mean discharge 2.8 m
3.4 m
5.3 m
2270 mm a
1997 mm a
1623 mm a
Weather station Grimsel Hospiz Hinterrhein Davos
Location 668583/158215 733900/153980 783514/187457
Dist. to stream gauging 2.4 km (outside catchment) 1.7 km 8.7km (outside catchment)
Source for glacier mass balances Huss et al. [2008] Huss et al. [2010] Huss et al. [2009]
Coordinates are given in CH1905 System.
An avalanche damaged the gauging station in Hinterrhein and monitoring was suspended in 2004 at Klosters.
Catchment glacierization according to the latest Swiss Glacier Inventory [Fischer et al., 2014]. The corresponding year is given in brackets.
According to the FOEN station data.
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Klosters operated by FOEN gauges an area of 103 km
, whereof 4.5% was glacierized in 2008. The closest
automatic weather station operated by MeteoSwiss is located 8.7 km southwest of the gauging station. Due
to the high availability of observational data, these study sites are ideal to test and validate our modeling con-
cept. In Table 1, the catchment characteristics of the three study sites are summarized. For the Hinterrhein
and the Landquart Rivers, discharge data are only available until 2004, when monitoring was suspended.
Daily satellite snow cover images are available since 2001 from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectrora-
diometer (MODIS, product MOD10A1.5 available at [Hall et al., 2002]. In this study, we
used all days with less than 10% cloud cover which is an optimum tradeoff between uncertainty of frac-
tional snow cover observations (<0.05 uncertainty corresponding to half of the obscured area) and number
of available satellite images (on average 84 days per year had less than 10% cloud cover) (Figure 2). Hence,
the average period with obscuration due to cloud cover was only about 4.3 days long, making an interpola-
tion between observations acceptable. Details about the interpolation method are described in Glaus
[2013]. The topography for all three catchments was obtained from a digital elevation model with 250 m
grid size provided by the Swiss Federal Office of Topography [swisstopo, 2004]. Three vegetation zones (for-
est, grassland, and areas without vegetation) were identified based on digital land cover maps from the
Swiss Federal Statistical Office (FSO).
Glacier mass balance data for the Rhonegletscher were obtained from Huss et al. [2008] based on a combi-
nation of seasonal direct observations and modeling to extrapolate the variables to the entire glacier. Mass
balance of glaciers in the Hinterrhein catchment were generated by extrapolating temporal variability from
several nearby glaciers provided by Huss et al. [2010] and combining these results with observed decadal
ice volume changes of the Hinterrhein glaciers. Mass balance data of the Silvrettagletscher are available
from homogenized direct observations [Huss et al., 2009]. All glacier mass balance data cover the accumula-
tion season (1 October to 30 April) and the ablation season (30 April to 1 October) and resolve the distribu-
tion of accumulation and ablation in 100 m elevation bands.
3. Modeling Approach and Multiple Data Set Calibration
3.1. The HBV-Light Model
The Hydrologiska Byråns Vattenbalansavdelning model (HBV) is a conceptual runoff model originally devel-
oped by Bergstr
om [1976, 1992]. The HBV model has been widely used in northern Europe [e.g., Seibert,
1999; Steele-Dunne et al., 2008] and other regions of the world [e.g., Cunderlik et al., 2013; Krysanova et al.,
1999; Razavi and Coulibaly, 2013]. Here we use the software implementation HBV-light [Seibert and Vis,
2012], which includes a glacier routine described in Konz and Seibert [2010]. In this model version, a water-
shed is represented by the area fractions of aspect and vegetation classes for different elevation zones. For
each specific zone, hydrological processes are computed separately. The model simulates catchment dis-
charge with a daily resolution using time series of precipitation, air temperature as well as estimates of
monthly long-term potential evaporation rates. Snow accumulation is derived from extrapolated precipita-
tion below a temperature threshold and snow and ice melt are computed by a temperature-index model
[e.g., Hock, 2003]. Groundwater recharge and actual evaporation are simulated as functions of actual water
storage in the soil routine. In the groundwater routine runoff is computed as a function of water storage in
two groundwater reservoirs. Runoff from the lumped reservoirs is determined with a triangular weighting
function to simulate the effect of channel routing on the arrival of stream flow at the gauging station. All
model parameters are summarized in Table 2 and a detailed description of the model parameters and their
functions is given in Seibert and Vis [2012].
Furthermore, for this study, the glacier routine of the HBV-light was enhanced with a nonlinear discharge
coefficient depending on snowpack water equivalent on the glacier so that the glacial water storage-
outflow relationship varies over time to represent the seasonal development of the subglacial drainage sys-
tem [Stahl et al., 2008]. Within glacierized areas, 0.1% of the snowpack is converted to ice in every daily time
step. Thus, snow not melted during the summer season is transformed into glacier ice within a few years,
which corresponds to observations on Alpine glaciers. The output routines of the HBV-light software were
updated to generate typical runoff component results as defined in previous studies [Radic and Hock, 2014]:
(i) total glacier outflow, G
(includes ice melt, snow melt, and rain over glacierized area), (ii) total rainwater
infiltration into the soil, I
(accounting for infiltration only in snow and glacier-free areas), (iii) snow melt,
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(comprises all snow also on glacierized area), (iv) ice melt, Q
(comprises only bare-ice melt of gla-
ciers), and rainfall runoff, (v) Q
(includes rain fall on the ground, on snow and glacier), at the gauging sta-
tion. These updates allow a quantification of the contribution of the different water sources to the runoff.
3.2. Complexity of Model Setups
To investigate the value of model complexity, we set up the HBV-light model for the Rhone catchment with
three levels of complexity (Table 3). In the simplest HBV setup (hereafter labeled HBV1), the Rhone catch-
ment is divided into 18 elevation zones with 100 m vertical spacing, without taking into account aspect or
vegetation cover. In the second HBV-light setup (hereafter labeled HBV2), we divided each elevation zone
Figure 2. Performance of the 100 best MC runs (N 510,000) using HBV3 regarding best overall consistency performance, POAnorm. (a)
illustrates the efficiencies of the 100 best runs regarding POAnorm, EQ, ESC,summer and EMB,abl. (b), (c), and (d) illustrate simulated and
observed discharge, fraction of snow cover area, and glacier mass balances. Black lines and gray bars indicate mean of the best 100 runs,
gray area indicates range of the 100 best runs, red lines and bars indicate best simulation within the ensemble, and the dashed line and
the bar illustrate runs with best performance regarding Q. In Figure 2b open circles indicate days with less than 10% cloud cover and
whiskers illustrate the respective uncertainty due to cloud cover.
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into three aspect classes, differentiating between south, east-west, and north facing slopes. Accordingly, in
the HBV2 setup, an additional slope correction factor, P
, had to be calibrated (Table 3).
Furthermore, an enhanced setup accounting for three vegetation zones (forests, grassland, and areas with-
out vegetation; thereafter named HBV3) was applied to all three catchments. In the HBV3 setup, each vege-
tation zone is described by specific soil parameters, adding three model parameters per vegetation zone.
Accordingly, the maximum soil moisture storage, P
, soil moisture at maximum actual evaporation, P
and the empirical scaling factor, P
, had to be calibrated additionally (Table 3).
Some results of the Rhone catchment can directly be compared to a previous study performed with the
physically based, fully distributed Topographic Kinematic Approximation and Integration model (TOPKAPI)
calibrated with the same data sets [Finger et al., 2011]. TOPKAPI was originally developed by the University
Table 2. Overview of Model Parameter s of the HBV3 Model
Rhone Hinterrhein Landquart
Description Units Min Max Mean Std Mean Std Mean Std
Rescaling parameters
of input data
Change of precipitation with elevation % (100m)
5 15 7.31 1.77 7.27 1.65 12.37 1.91
Change of temperature with elevation C (100m)
0.5 1.5 0.92 0.15 0.81 0.15 0.66 0.12
Snow and ice melt parameters
Threshold temperature for liquid and solid precipitation. C 3 1 1.68 0.87 0.29 0.81 0.67 0.91
Degree-day factor mm d
1.5 10 7.05 1.81 8.26 1.27 5.78 1.78
Snowfall correction factor - 0.8 1.2 0.93 0.09 0.98 0.10 1.07 0.10
Refreezing coefficient - 0.02 0.1 0.06 0.02 0.06 0.02 0.06 0.03
Water holding capacity of the snow storage - 0.1 0.4 0.26 0.09 0.23 0.09 0.26 0.09
Glacier melt correction factor - 0.3 3 0.88 0.50 1.19 0.72 0.90 0.41
Slope snow melt correction factor - 0.3 3 1.30 0.74 1.88 0.65 1.68 0.42
Minimum value for the outflow coefficient representing conditions
with poorly developed glacial drainage systems in late winter
- 0.01 0.2 0.11 0.06 0.09 0.06 0.10 0.06
Range of the annual outflow coefficient variation - 0.01 0.5 0.25 0.14 0.25 0.13 0.23 0.14
Calibration parameter defining the sensitivity of the
outflow coefficient to changes in the snow storage
- 0 0.1 0.05 0.03 0.05 0.03 0.50 0.31
Soil parameters
Maximum percolation from upper to lower groundwater storage mm d
0 4 2.07 0.99 2.36 1.03 2.24 0.99
Storage (or recession) coefficient 0 d
0.1 0.5 0.29 0.11 0.31 0.11 0.26 0.12
Storage (or recession) coefficient 1 d
0.01 0.2 0.10 0.05 0.10 0.06 0.09 0.06
Storage (or recession) coefficient 2 d
5E-05 0.1 0.04 0.03 0.02 0.02 0.02 0.02
Length of triangular weighting function d 1 2.5 1.71 0.46 1.56 0.39 1.82 0.42
Maximum soil moisture storage mm 100 700 376 162 382 166 397 175
416 175 415 176 377 166
414 168 386 170 420 165
Relative soil water storage below which AET is reduced linearly - 0.3 1 0.69 0.20 0.63 0.21 0.65 0.21
0.68 0.20 0.65 0.18 0.62 0.20
0.71 0.21 0.66 0.20 0.63 0.21
Shape factor for the function used to calculate the distribution
of rain and snow melt going to runoff and soil box, respectively
- 1 5 2.87 1.17 2.94 1.11 3.00 1.17
3.17 1.14 2.87 1.12 2.99 1.14
2.97 1.12 3.12 1.12 2.86 1.17
A detailed description of model parameters is given in Seibert and Vis [2012].
Slope factor correcting P
accounting for dependency of melt rates on aspect of topography.
Glacier parameters to according to Stahl et al. [2008].
Parameters which are vegetation specific; accordingly for the HBV3 version, these parameters were optimized for the three vegetation zone: (i) forests, (ii) grassland, and (iii) with-
out vegetation.
Table 3. Summary of the Three Different HBV Model Setups
Aspect zone 1 3 3
Vegetation zones 1 1 3
Number of parameters 19 20 26
Additional parameters - P
Number of model parameters to be calibrated.
Additional parameters compared to HBV1. The parameters P
, and P
are vegetation specific (see Table 2 for details).
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of Bologna and is based on the conceptual ARNO model [Todini, 1996]. Besides being able to investigate
the spatial distribution of the snow cover, the higher complexity of TOPKAPI allowed Finger et al. [2011] to
perform simulations at hourly resolution rather than daily time steps usually used in the HBV model. This is
also reflected by Micovic and Quick [2009] who demonstrated that process representations and model
parameters that appear unimportant during the long-term simulation have significant effects on the short-
term extreme event model simulation.
3.3. Calibration With Discharge, Snow Cover Images and Glacier Mass Balances
To determine an ensemble of model parameter sets that leads to model results adequately simulating
observed discharge, snow cover, and seasonal glacier mass balances, we used the same Monte Carlo (MC)
calibration procedure as presented by Finger et al. [2011]. Accordingly, only a short summary is given here,
outlining how the method was adapted to the HBV-light model. As discussed by Finger et al. [2011], the
selection of 100 runs from 10,000 parameter sets generated using a uniform distribution of the values of
each parameter (Table 2) are sufficient to obtain an adequate consent of model stability, model perform-
ance, and parameter variability. Hence, 10,000 parameter sets were randomly generated from a uniformly
distributed physically constrained range determined by test runs and based on values found in previous
studies [Seibert, 1999]. These parameter sets were applied to the HBV-light model in order to compute
model efficiencies (see Table 4) regarding discharge (Q), snow cover area (SC), and glacier mass balances
(MB) during a 1 year calibration period. Hence, for every run the ranking value for all six efficiency criteria,
, was computed by dividing the rank regarding a specific efficiency by the total number of runs. As
defined by Finger et al. [2011], we used the overall consistency performance, P
, to quantify the simultane-
ous performance regarding all criteria considered. P
was obtained for all individual runs by averaging the
ranking value of all six efficiencies, assuring equal weighting of all efficiencies considered. For visualization
purposes, we normalized the overall consistency performance, P
, by dividing P
by the best ranking
value of all runs. By ranking the 10,000 runs according to P
, an ensemble of the 100 best runs regard-
ing all six E
could be identified. Similar to Finger et al. [2011], the value of the three observational data sets
(glacier mass balances, snow cover images, and discharge data) was assessed by comparing P
of the
100 best runs selected according to the consistency performance of a specific criterion. To focus on the cali-
bration during the ablation season, we used all six criteria only for the computation of P
, but per-
formed all other computations using only efficiency regarding discharge (Q, quantified using E
), summer
mass balance (MB, quantified using E
), and snow cover during summer (SC, quantified using E
To allow a consistent illustration of all efficiencies with increasing performance for higher values, E
was computed by normalizing E
to mean mass change of the glacier as defined in Table 4.
Table 4. The Six Efficiency Criteria Used to Evaluate Model Performance Regarding the Three Data Sets
Efficiency Criteria
Opt. Calibration Period Equation
Nash-Sutcliffe of Q, E
Max 1 Jan to 31 Dec EQ512Pn
Nash-Sutcliffe of log (Q), E
Max 1 Jan to 31 Dec EQlog 512Pn
i51ðlog ðqobs;iÞ2log ðqi;simÞÞ2
i51ðlog ðqobs;iÞ2log ðqobs;iÞÞ2
Root mean square error of mass balance, E
Min 1 Oct to 30 Apr (7 months)
Root mean square error of mass balance, E
Min 1 May to 30 Sep (5 months)
Normalized MB efficacy E
Max EMB;norm512ðEMB;abl =href ;j;mean Þ
Correctly predicted snow cover area,E
Max 1 Jan to 31 Dec Esc51
Correctly predicted snow cover area,E
Max 1 Apr to 1 Aug
Indicates if the criterion should be maximized (max) or minimized (min) during calibration.
In order to compute P
all six criteria were considered; for all other results only E
, and E
were considered.
is observed daily discharge; q
is simulated daily discharge for time step i; to be consistent with Finger et al [2011] the calen- year was chosen for calibration rather than the water year.
Dhis the combined change in snow and ice height in w. eq. during the indicated period for a specific 100 m altitude band j; indices
ref and sim designate reference and simulated heights.
is the mean of all Dhduring the entire validation period.
ais the daily area fraction covered by snow; index sim and obs stands, respectively, for estimations based on satellite images; index i
stands for the time step and n stands for the number of days considered.
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In principle, our calibration technique is comparable to a modified GLUE approach [Beven and Binley, 1992;
Beven and Freer, 2001; Freer et al., 1996; Juston et al., 2009]. The main difference is that we use the rank of
the runs to select the ensemble of acceptable runs, assuring equal weighting of all criteria considered (see
discussion), rather than using thresholds and model parameter frequency analysis.
The calibration procedure was applied to the three catchments using data from a typical hydrological and
meteorological year with close-to-average discharge, precipitation, and temperature relative to the first dec-
ade of the 21st century. Preliminary calibration runs revealed that choosing an average year yields best
model performances for the remaining years. For the Rhone catchment, the year 2008 was chosen for cali-
bration purposes. For the Hinterrhein and the Landquart catchment, the years 2002 and 2004, respectively,
were chosen for calibration.
4. Results
To assess the value of daily discharge and snow cover images, as well as seasonal glacier mass balances
to calibrate models of different complexity levels (HBV1, HBV2, and HBV3), we first present the perform-
ance of the HBV3 model in the Rhone catchment during the calibration period and then proceed by com-
paring the calibration performance of the three HBV model setups (section 5.1). Subsequently, we
present the results for the validation periods (section 5.2) and show the computed contribution of snow,
glacier, and rain to total runoff (section 5.3). Finally, we demonstrate that the results of the Rhone catch-
ment are consistent with results from two complementary study sites (Hinterrhein and Landquart) with
smaller glacier coverage (section 5.4).
4.1. Model Performance During Calibration
The performance of the HBV3 model setup in the Rhone catchment for the 100 best MC runs during the cali-
bration year 2008 is visualized in Figure 2. The values of the efficiency criteria listed in Table 4 of the best 100
runs reveal that the selection of 100 runs from 10,000 MC runs adequately accounts for variability and optimi-
zation of efficiency (Figure 2a). The mean E
value is 0.88 (standard deviation: 60.03), mean E
is 0.91
(60.01), and mean E
is 1226 (6499) mm water equivalent (w. eq.) over the ablation season (Table 5),
indicating an adequate prediction of all three observational data sets. Simulated mean mass balance during
ablation season is 2664 mm w. eq. compared to 2747 mm w. eq. according to the observations, indicating
that glacier melt is captured with an accuracy of 3%. Specific discharge reaches 38 mm d
during the
melting season and drops below 2 mm d
during the low-flow season (Figure 2b). From November to April,
the entire catchment was covered by snow, while during July and August snow coverage was reduced to
less than 40% of the catchment (Figure 2c). During the accumulation phase between 1 October 2007 and 30
April 2008, the Rhonegletscher gained from 575 mm snow water equivalent (w. eq.) in the lowest to over
2000 mm w. eq. in the highest altitude bands (Figure 2d). During the depletion phase, the glacier lost
between 20 mm w. eq. and 6000 mm w. eq. All these observations were adequately predicted by the 100
best simulations as illustrated by the grey areas and bars in Figure 2. Nevertheless, the 100 best runs regard-
ing P
reveal slightly lower performance regarding discharge than the best performance obtained if the
model runs were selected only according to E
(Figure 2b).
Table 5. Performance of Rhone Regarding Different Selection Criteria of the 100 Best MC-Runs During Calibration
Performance Criteria
Discharge E
Snow Cover
Mass Balances
[mm w. eq.]
Consistency Perf.
Selection Criteria Mean Std Mean Std Mean Std Mean Std
Q 0.912 0.006 0.879 0.026 1907.227 1007.419 0.791 0.109
SC 1.961 3.223 0.925 0.001 10002.875 6122.284 0.573 0.150
MB 0.782 0.087 0.873 0.033 486.965 115.472 0.753 0.122
Q1SC 0.889 0.019 0.915 0.005 1842.336 1021.465 0.906 0.047
Q1MB 0.895 0.015 0.890 0.020 893.392 215.205 0.859 0.080
MB1SC 0.807 0.122 0.916 0.005 950.524 287.872 0.883 0.077
Q1SC1MB 0.875 0.028 0.911 0.009 1225.856 498.622 0.937 0.020
Shaded cells indicate that the data sets relevant for the criterion were used to select the best runs.
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In order to calculate the contribution of snow melt, glacier melt, and rain to runoff, it is important to
adequately optimize the simulation of the snow cover during the snow melt season (expressed by E
), the glacier volume loss during depletion season (expressed by E
), and the seasonal discharge
dynamics during the entire year (expressed by the Nash and Sutcliffe [1970] values, E
). Accordingly, we
compared E
, and P
in the 100 best runs selected according to each of these effi-
ciencies in Table 5. Mean E
in the 100 best runs selected with daily discharge data is 0.91, which is higher
than in the 100 best runs selected according to P
which reveal a mean E
value of 0.88. However, as
also illustrated in Figure 2c and d model results using only Q for calibration yield unsatisfactory results for
daily snow cover and seasonal glacier mass balances. The same is true for the mean performance of the 100
best runs regarding POAnorm or a specific criterion listed in Table 4. Mean E
and E
of the runs
selected only with discharge reveal efficiencies of 0.88 and 1907 mm w. eq., respectively, which indicates a
lower performance than the 100 best runs selected with P
. The same findings also apply for the 100
best runs selected regarding their efficiencies in snow cover and mass balances (Table 5). Every criterion
used to select the best runs yields highest values of the specific efficiency but the remaining criteria are sig-
nificantly lower. If P
is used to select the 100 best runs, efficiency regarding all criteria appears to be
adequate, as illustrated in Figure 2 but not maximized. This trade-off illustrates the equifinality of the cali-
bration of the HBV-light model. An explicit equifinality can be observed if only SC is used for calibration, as
an increase in precipitation can be compensated by enhanced melting rates to produce similar E
results, leading, however, to unrealistic discharge and mass balance simulations.
As defined by Finger et al. [2011], P
is a numerical value that quantifies the simultaneous performance
of a model regarding all efficiency criteria considered relative to the performance of all MC runs performed.
In our case, we considered six criteria (Table 4), consisting of three pairs evaluating the performance regard-
ing discharge (Q), snow cover (SC), and glacier mass balances (MB), assuring equal weighting of the three
observational data sets. In Figure 3, mean P
of the 100 best runs regarding seven selection criteria are
visualized: (i) regarding Q using E
, (ii) regarding SC using E
, (iii) regarding MB using E
, (iv)
regarding Q and SC by averaging the ranking values of E
and E
, (v) regarding Q and MB by
Figure 3. Overall consistency performance, P
, of the 100 best runs performed with HBV1, HBV2, and HBV3 regarding the selection
criteria listed on the abscissa (Q: discharge; SC: snow cover images; MB: glacier mass balance). The whiskers illustrate the standard devia-
tion from the mean. Star indicates results found by Finger et al. [2011] using the distributed, physically based TOPKAPI model.
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averaging the ranking values of E
and E
, (vi) regarding SC and MB by averaging the ranking values of
and E
and finally (vii) regarding Q, SC and MB using all six efficiency criteria. By definition,
is highest if all three data sets are used to select the best runs.
Furthermore, values for P
of HBV1, HBV2, and HBV3 are compared in Figure 3. The results clearly indi-
cate that overall consistency performance is significantly lower (difference is larger than the standard devia-
tion from the mean) if only one observational data set (Q, SC, or MB) is used to select the best runs,
independent of model complexity. These results are in line and complementary to the results obtained by
Finger et al. [2011] using the fully distributed TOPKAPI model. However, the increase in P
additional data sets are used for calibration is more emphasized in the results produced by TOPKAPI than
HBV (Figure 3), indicating an enhanced exploitation of spatial information from satellite images within
All three models achieve substantially higher overall consistency performances if at least two data sets are
combined to select the best MC runs. If only two data sets are available (Q1SC, Q1MB, and SC1MB), all
three models reach best performances when Q1SC are used to select the best runs. The combinations
Q1MB and SC1MB to select the best runs lead to higher performances than if only one data set was used,
but remain below the performance obtained with Q1SC. Finally, enhanced model complexity does not
lead to a significant increase in overall consistency performance regardless of the observational data sets
used for calibration.
4.2. Validation and Model Consistency
Model performance during the calibration period indicates that model consistency is increased if all avail-
able data sets are used for calibration, regardless of model complexity. However, this finding has to be vali-
dated for an independent validation period characterized by different weather patterns. By applying the
parameter sets from the calibration to an 8 year validation period, including the record breaking heat wave
in 2003 [Sch
ar et al., 2004] which resulted in exceptional glacier melt runoff [Zappa and Kan, 2007] and the
extreme flood event in 2005 [Barredo, 2007], the robustness of our calibration routine can be assessed for
different meteorological conditions. As the three HBV-light setups have a similar structure, a direct compari-
son of their efficiencies during the validation period is possible.
In Figure 4, the model efficiencies for the calibration (2008) and validation period (2001–2007) of the three
HBV model complexities regarding Q, SC, and MB are compared to the efficiencies obtained with HBV3 ver-
sion calibrated only with Q and with Q1SC. Evidently, all 8 years reveal the best Nash-Sutcliffe efficiency if
the MC runs are selected only considering Q. Nevertheless, in this case E
is, as expected, during sev-
eral years significantly lower. Furthermore, E
is also lowest when MC runs are only selected regarding
their respective E
. Nevertheless, E
is consistently higher if MC runs are selected considering Q and
SC than if selected only considering Q. This result is in line with the mean overall consistency performance
obtained during the calibration period. Finally, in Figure 4d the simulated accumulated mean snow height
in the catchment is illustrated. While the calibration using only Q reveals a continuous increase of mean
simulated snow height to values of more than 6 m w. eq. within 8 years, the calibration using additionally
SC indicates significantly smaller perennial snow accumulation falling in line with the long-term glacier
mass balance observations.
The comparison of the three HBV model setups with different levels of complexity does not reveal a signifi-
cant change in model performance, neither regarding the overall consistency performance using different
data sets for calibration (Figure 3), nor specific efficiency criteria during the 8 year validation period (Figure
4). The comparison of monthly discharge and runoff composition computed with different model complex-
ities was also minimal (Figure 5a), thus indicating the redundancy of the investigated model complexities.
Furthermore, these results reveal that the investigated higher model complexity does not lead to a better
performance during extreme weather patterns such as the heat wave in 2003 or the flood of 2005
(Figure 4).
4.3. Estimations of Snow, Glacier, and Rainfall Contribution to Runoff
Model estimates of mean monthly total runoff (Q
), fraction of snow-covered area (A
), total glacier out-
flow (G
), and rain infiltration into the soil (I
) in the Rhone catchment between 2001 and 2008 are pre-
sented in Figure 5. Furthermore, Figure 5 compares the estimates of the three HBV setups (HBV1, HBV2, and
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HBV3) and the three calibration methods (using only Q, using Q1SC, and using Q1SC1MB combined). We
limit ourselves here to three ways of calibrating the model, as the combination of Q1SC revealed to contain
complementary information [Duethmann et al., 2014; Finger et al., 2011] and obtained high overall consis-
tency performance (Figure 3). Indeed, MODIS snow cover products are available for most areas of the world
and have been increasingly used for calibration purposes [Duethmann et al., 2014; Finger et al., 2012; Franz
and Karsten, 2013]. Glacier mass balances are more difficult to acquire but have the highest and most direct
information content regarding the contribution of glacier melt to runoff.
If all three data sets (Q1SC1MB) are used for calibration, the seasonal dynamics of snow, glacier, and rain
contribution are reproduced by all three model complexities consistently (Figure 5a). The results clearly
show that snow contribution dominates discharge until the month of June. Starting in July, snow melt grad-
ually decreases and in August glacier melt is the dominant contributor to runoff. Simulated rainfall runoff
reaches its maximum contribution in August consistent with precipitation patterns observed at the nearby
weather station, but never becomes a main contributor to total runoff in the Rhone catchment. These
results are confirmed by all three model complexities.
Results obtained with HBV3 calibrated with (i) Q, (ii) Q1SC, and (iii) Q1SC1MB, however, partly reveal sig-
nificant differences in the results (Figures 5b–5d). From June to October, estimates of snow cover using cali-
bration with Q are significantly overestimated compared to observations in satellite snow cover images.
Results obtained with calibration of multiple data sets perform significantly better regarding snow cover.
Accordingly, if calibration is performed using only Q, the overestimation of snow cover leads to an underes-
timation of glacier outflow G
, and rain infiltration during June and July (Figures 5c and 5d).
Figure 4. (a,b,c) Mean model performance of the 100 best runs of the three HBV setup versions for the Rhone catchment during a validation period (2001–2008). Light gray, dark gray,
and plain white bars illustrate model performance of the HBV1, HBV2, and HBV3 model, respectively, using the model parameter sets obtained during calibration in 2008 (enframed
area) with all three observational data sets (Q, SC, and MB). Stripes and cross stripes in bars indicate, respectively, model performance of the HBV3 model using parameter sets selected
with (i) discharge and with (ii) Q and snow cover images (Q1SC) combined. The upward and downward whiskers illustrate the standard deviation from the mean. (d) presents the aver-
age of simulated accumulated mean snow height in the catchment of the 100 best runs of HBV 3 with different calibrations. The striped and gray area represents, respectively, the stand-
ard deviation from the average of calibration using (i) Q and (ii) all three data sets combined.
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4.4. Results for the Hinterrhein and Landquart Catchments
The results for the Rhone catchment indicate that discharge data and snow cover data are sufficient to
adequately estimate snow, glacier, and rain contribution to the runoff from glacierized catchments (see also
discussion section). To confirm these findings, we applied the same calibration method to the Hinterrhein
(calibration year 2002) and Landquart (calibration year 2004) catchments, both characterized by smaller gla-
cierization. In the following, we present the results for all catchments during the respective validation
period using the parameter sets determined during calibration.
In Figure 6, the annual efficiencies for the years 2001–2004 for discharge, snow-covered area, and glacier
mass balances in the Hinterrhein and Landquart catchments are compared to the efficiencies obtained for
the Rhone catchment. Furthermore, for all three catchments, the efficiencies of simulations selected by
using only Q, Q1SC combined, and by using all three observational data sets to select the best runs are
illustrated. The result for Hinterrhein should be interpreted with reservation, as the glacier mass balance var-
iability used for calibration is based on a glaciological model rather than being direct observations as is the
case for the other study sites.
Mean efficiency regarding Q is best if the model is only calibrated with Q in all three catchments. However,
during extreme weather patterns, such as the heat wave in 2003, the model efficiency regarding Q in the
Landquart catchment is slightly better when Q1SC1MB are combined to calibrate the model than when
only Q is used (Figure 6a). Given that the decrease in efficiency for discharge by optimizing the model per-
formance also using glacier mass balances and snow cover is in most years not significant, the gain in effi-
ciency regarding SC and MB is significant and remarkable (Figures 6b and 6c). Indeed, the efficiency
Figure 5. Mean monthly discharge, fraction of snow cover, glacier outflow, and rain infiltration from 2001 to 2008 in the Rhone catchment. (a) Illustrates the results from three different
model complexities calibrated with Q1SC1MB. (b), (c), and (d) Compares the results of fractional snow cover, the contributions of glacier to runoff, and the rain infiltration computed by
the HBV3 model calibrated with (i) only Q, with (ii) Q1SC, and with (iii) Q1SC1MB. Red open bars in Figure 5b indicate the fractional snow cover estimates based on MODIS satellite
images. The whiskers illustrate the standard deviation from the mean. Months with significant differenc es are labeled with an asterisk (*).
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regarding SC is consistently increased if SC is used additionally for calibration or if all three data sets are
used to calibrate the model. Calibration using only Q reveals significantly lower efficiency for snow cover
than the combined use of all data sets for calibration. A similar result is revealed by the efficiency regarding
mass balances (Figure 6c). Simulations using only discharge data for calibration indicate a significantly lower
efficiency regarding calculated glacier mass balance than calibration using at least two observational data
Indeed, the seasonal evolution of simulated snow and ice melt and rain runoff in the three catchments
shows the expected sequence (Figure 7): from May to July intense snow melt and rainfall runoff dominate
the discharge in all three catchments, in August and September glacial outflow reaches its maximum, and
in October and November the runoff is mainly composed of rainfall runoff. The different calibration routines
using only discharge (Q), using discharge and satellite images (Q1SC), and additionally using glacier mass
balances (Q1SC1MB) result in the same seasonal patterns. However, as already discussed for the Rhone-
gletscher, significantly different compositions of total runoff can be observed during specific months if dif-
ferent data sets are used to calibrate the model. In particular in June and July, when melting rates of snow
and ice are at maximum, simulation results appear to be sensitive to the multiple data set calibration tech-
nique. However, these months are particularly important for water resource management and water users
in downstream areas.
The assessment of model performance regarding discharge indicates that the use of multiple data sets
does not decrease the efficiency regarding Q below an acceptable level (Figures 2, 4, and 7), but signifi-
cantly increases the overall consistency performance (Figure 3). In Figure 8, the performance during the vali-
dation period of long-term mass balances and monthly snow cover fraction using different data sets for
Figure 6. Comparison of model efficiency during the validation period (2001–2004) of Rhone, Hinterrhein and Landquart using the parameters sets from the calibration year (calibration
year is enframed and labeled with the respective site, n.b. Rhone was calibrated for 2008). Empty bars illustrate the performance of simulations calibrated only with Q, bars with sparse
stripes indicate efficiencies of simulations calibrated with Q and SC combined, and bars with dense stripes indicate efficiencies of simulation using all three data sets combined. The
whiskers illustrate the standard deviation from the mean.
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calibration of the HBV3 model are presented (see Figure 5b for fractional snow cover for Rhone). Only the
use of all three data sets combined yields an acceptable performance for long-term mass balances, as the
observations lie within the standard deviations of the simulations (Figures 8a, 8b, and 8d). However, if only
Q is used for calibration observations are outside the standard deviation of the simulations in most cases,
indicating significant inconsistencies regarding observed glacier mass balances. Similar patterns regarding
the calibration methods can be observed in the simulated snow cover fraction (Figures 8c and 8e). Similarly
to the Rhone catchment (Figure 5b), fractional snow cover is significantly overestimated during the summer
months in the Hinterrhein catchment if only Q is used for calibration (Figure 8c). In the Landquart catch-
ment, the added value of SC for calibration purposes can be observed as well, even though the differences
are not as pronounced as in the Rhone and Hinterrhein catchments.
Figure 9 illustrates the mean P
of the HBV3 model setup using a single observational data set (Q,
SC, or MB), combining two observational data sets (Q1SC) and using all three data sets (Q1SC1MB) to
calibrate the model. This comparison reveals that, if only one data set is available, discharge data lead to
highest overall consistency performance, regardless of the glacierization of the catchment. However, the
use of combined observational data sets (Q1SC or Q1SC1MB) significantly increases the mean overall
consistency performance in all three catchments. The comparison of the mean overall consistency per-
formance also indicates that MB enhances P
in particular in smaller catchments with higher
5. Discussion
The objective of this study is to evaluate the value of multiple data sets versus model complexity to
adequately estimate snow, glacier, and rain runoff contribution in mountain streams. An experimental esti-
mation of the different sources of runoff would require extensive field work, chemical analysis and tracer
experiments [Finger et al., 2013; Jansson et al., 2003; Taylor et al., 2001]. While the annual glacier contribution
to runoff can be computed by water balance calculations based on total runoff and changes in glacier vol-
ume [Huss, 2011; Kaser et al., 2010], the seasonal dynamics requires an assessment of continuous melt and
runoff processes. The processes leading to snow, ice melt, and rainfall runoff are complex, as rain may fall
on snow, refreeze during night and eventually be stored subglacially to be released after several days mixed
with snow and glacier ice melt water. By validating the model outputs against daily snow cover images,
Figure 7. Mean monthly discharge, Q
, and Q
contribution in the Rhonegletscher (2001–2008 using parameters from the cali-
bration year 2008), Hinterrhein (2001–2004 using parameters from the calibration year 2002), and Landquart (2001–2004 using parameters
from the calibration year 2004) catchment computed with the HBV3 model setup using (i) Q, (ii) Q1SC, and (iii) Q1SC1MB for calibration.
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seasonal glacier mass balances and daily discharge observations, we validate our results with the three rele-
vant observational data sets, leading to increased modeling consistency.
A particular advantage of our approach using satellite snow cover images is reflected in the increased
performance regarding snow cover estimations. Our approach reduces the accumulation of simulated
mean snow height to acceptable levels for simulations not exceeding several decades (Figure 4d). This
supports the argument that calibration using satellite snow cover images yields more realistic results
[Duethmann et al., 2014; Finger et al., 2012; Parajka and Bl
oschl, 2008]. Nevertheless, for a proper consider-
ation of transformation of snow to ice and glacier flow, more detailed corresponding modules would
have to be included in the model.
Figure 8. Long-term validation of the HBV3 model regarding glacier mass balances and snow cover. (a), (b), and (d) illustrate mass balan-
ces between 2001 and 2004 for the glaciers in Rhone (calibration year: 2008, n.b. validation period for Rhone extends from 2001 to 2008),
Hinterrhein (calibration year: 2002), and Landquart (calibration year: 2004), respectively. (c) and (e) show monthly mean fractional snow
cover between 2001 and 2004 for Hinterrhein and Landquart.
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We limited the number of MC
runs to 10,000 runs, being aware
that we cannot explore the
entire parameter space and that
our approach only partially gives
a solution to the equifinality
problem [Beven, 2006; Beven and
Binley, 1992]. However, model
performance stabilizes after
10,000 runs and the best efficien-
cies regarding discharge, snow
cover, and glacier mass balances
(Table 5) are comparable to ear-
lier studies [Finger et al. 2011,
Konz and Seibert 2010, Verbunt
et al. 2003]. By selecting only 100
runs out of all 10,000 MC runs,
we implicitly set the threshold to
be the best 1% of all runs. The
lowest performance value of the
1% best runs can hence be considered as a reference taking into account catchment characteristics
and data quality [Schaefli and Gupta, 2007; Seibert, 2001]. An eminent advantage of not utilizing user-
defined benchmarks is that all data sets are weighted equally, while benchmarks have to be chosen
carefully to assure equal weighting of efficiency criteria. The model performance regarding all three
observational data sets (Figure 2) is reasonable, given the uncertainty in discharge observations [Sikor-
ska et al., 2013], snow cover images [Hall et al., 2010], and measured glacier mass balances [Zemp
et al., 2013]. Accordingly, we conclude that our approach of determining an overall consistency per-
formance is an adequate method to obtain consistent model performance for all three observational
data sets.
Even though we restricted the calibration period to 1 year, long-term validation yields adequate results for all
three observational data sets, making our method also applicable to catchments with limited data availability.
Furthermore, the 1 year calibration period reduces computational time of MC calculation to an acceptable
level. Nevertheless, longer calibration periods may also help reducing equifinality [Razavi and Tolson, 2013],
although this was not investigated in this study. As our method improves overall consistency performance
using only 1 year of data, this opens new opportunities for water managers to investigate water resources in
remote and unexplored areas with limited data availability and short time series.
We compared three levels of HBV-model complexities to assess the value of model complexity on perform-
ance. This assessment only provides a limited insight into the wide range of different model complexities,
and could easily be extended to e.g., seasonally varying melt parameters and varying snow melt factors for
different vegetation zones [Jost et al., 2012b]. The selected complexities were not specifically selected based
on data availability but rather on most commonly used aspects in hydrological models (e.g., aspect of
slopes and vegetation zones). Accordingly, the observational data sets used in this study did only partially
constrain the added complexity. Nevertheless, our results demonstrate that model complexity does not
necessarily enhance model performance if the available data does not contain the appropriate information
to constrain the results. This is an important finding, as complex models are widely used without having the
required observational data to constrain model parameters.
Our findings are in line with results obtained with a physically based, fully distributed TOPKAPI model [Fin-
ger et al., 2011]. The comparison of model consistency performance between HBV and TOPKAPI reveals that
the conceptual HBV model yields higher P
if only discharge is used for calibration, compared to the
spatially distributed TOPKAPI model (Figure 3). This indicates that spatial modeling of snow cover (as done
by TOPKAPI) can retrieve more constraining information from snow cover images than lumped hydrological
modeling (as done by HBV). Nevertheless, a comprehensive comparison of aggregated high-resolution
(hourly runoff and gridded snow melt as computed in TOPKAPI) and coarse-resolution (daily runoff and
Figure 9. Mean overall consistency performance in all three catchments of the 100 best
runs during the calibration year (Rhone: 2008, Hinterrhein: 2002, and Landquart: 2004)
selected with the observational data sets indicated on the abscissa: (i) discharge (Q), (ii)
Q combined with snow cover (SC), and (iii) Q combined with SC and mass balances
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snow melt from elevation bands as computed in HBV) model performance would require an extensive dis-
cussion which is beyond the scope of this study.
Moreover, our results demonstrate that the use of discharge alone can lead to unrealistic glacier mass bal-
ances and snow cover evolution, distorting the contribution of snow, and ice melt to runoff (Table 5 and
Figure 2). Furthermore, a steady increase of mean simulated snow height (Figure 4d) can lead to system-
atic errors in long-term simulations. However, if SC is additionally used for calibration, this systematic
error can be minimized. For calculations of future scenarios, it is essential that a model result is produced
for the correct reasons [Finger et al., 2011; Kirchner, 2006]. Accordingly, simulations with high Nash-
Sutcliffe efficiency but poor snow cover and mass balance efficiency may not be suitable for scenario pro-
jections as they reproduce observed runoff for the wrong reasons. Hence, while an increased overall con-
sistence performance might not improve efficiency regarding a specific data set nor decrease uncertainty
of the simulations, it certainly quantifies the model performance regarding all considered data sets
Finally, calibration routines should be adapted to the modeling objectives. In our case, we want to achieve
highest accuracy regarding snow, glacier, and rain contribution. Thus, the use of all three data sets for cali-
bration purposes seems most appropriate, despite a certain loss in performance regarding discharge. Our
results demonstrate that the use of our multiple data set calibration significantly enhances the consistency
of runoff prediction in spring, a period of major importance for hydropower production [Engelhardt et al.,
2014; Gaudard et al., 2013; Kim and Palmer, 1997; Sorg et al., 2012], sediment transport loads [Finger et al.,
2006; Riihimaki et al., 2005], and downstream freshwater ecosystems [Finger et al., 2007a; Finger et al.,
2007b], to name just a few. Accordingly, our modeling approach using multiple data sets for calibration of a
hydrological model presents a robust and accurate estimation of runoff contribution, providing important
insights for water resources managers.
6. Conclusions
Three levels of complexity of the conceptual hydrological model HBV-light were evaluated with respect to
data availability of daily discharge (Q), daily satellite snow cover images (SC), and seasonal glacier mass bal-
ance (MB) and their combination to consistently and reliably estimate snow, glacier, and rain contribution
to runoff in glacierized Alpine drainage basins. Our results demonstrate (1) that the use of multiple data
sets significantly improves the estimation of snow, glacier, and rainfall contribution to runoff compared to
calibrations with runoff only, and (2) that the increase in model complexity does not lead to a substantial
improvement of modeling performance. Based on the presented results, the following conclusions can be
1. Our results demonstrate that 10,000 MC runs using randomly generated parameter sets are sufficient to
define an ensemble of 100 parameters sets for the HBV-light model with adequate performance regard-
ing daily snow cover, seasonal glacier mass balances, and daily discharge. Metric efficiencies of the 100
best runs were comparable to previous studies, revealing that a threshold to exclude poor performances
is not necessary. The omission of thresholds consolidates the multiple data set calibration as it guarantees
that all efficiencies are equally represented in the selected runs.
2. The overall consistency performance is increased if different observational data sets are used for model
calibration regardless of the complexity of the hydrological model. In particular, the combination of dis-
charge data and satellite-derived snow cover images produces substantially better results. The aggre-
gated spatial information from satellite images to fractional snow cover and the temporal and volumetric
information from discharge data are complementary, allowing a realistic model calibration reproducing
snow cover, glacier mass balances, and discharge adequately.
3. The increase in model complexity by introducing aspect zones (HBV2) and vegetation zones (HBV3) into
the HBV setup does not have a significant influence on model performance regarding snow, glacier, and
rain contribution to runoff. This shows that the increasing model complexity is redundant if the available
data does not contain specific information to constrain the added complexity.
4. The use of satellite-derived snow cover images to constrain model parameters reduces the overestima-
tion of snow cover during summer months and thus increases the performance regarding long-term
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mass balances for the two catchments with higher glacierization (Rhone and Hinterrhein). This indicates
that simulated snow accumulation becomes more realistic and is acceptable even for decadal simulation
5. For the three investigated catchments, the value of combining glacier mass balances, snow cover images,
and discharge to calibrate a hydrological model increases for the smaller catchments with a high percent-
age of glacier cover. However, the use of snow cover images particularly increases model performance in
the larger catchments with a smaller level of glacierization.
6. In particular during the ablation season (e.g., June and July), the use of multiple data sets to calibrate a
hydrological model leads to significantly higher performance regarding the snow, glacier, and rain contri-
bution in runoff. According to our study, snow cover was generally overestimated when only discharge
was used for calibration, leading to inaccurate glacier mass balances and unrealistic glacier and rain con-
tribution to runoff.
7. Given that increasing model complexity did not increase model performance significantly, we conclude
that it is more important to obtain and use additional data sets to constrain model parameters, rather
than enhancing the precision of specific hydrological processes within a model. Hence, in order to
increase hydrological model performance, future efforts should focus on the acquisition, processing, pub-
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This study was part of the project
‘‘Runoff amounts from snow and
glacial melts in the Rhine River and its
tributaries against the background of
climate change" funded by CHR
(International Commission for the
Hydrology of the Rhine basin) and of
the Panta Rhei Research Initiative
(WG25) of the International
Association of Hydrological Sciences
(IAHS). The first author was financed
by the Icelandic Meteorological Office,
Reykjavik University, and the CHR-
project. Meteorological data from all
weather stations were provided by
Swiss Federal Office of Meteorology
and Climatology (MeteoSwiss,
available at http://www.meteoschweiz. Discharge data from the
three gauging stations were provided
by the Swiss Federal Office for the
Environment (FOEN, available at http:// Glacier
mass balances were obtain from
various studies as mentioned in the
text (Table 1) and MODIS snow cover
images were obtained from the
National Snow and Ice Data Center
(NSIDC, available at
Digital elevation maps were provided
by the Swiss Federal Office of
Topography (Swisstopo, available at and
land use maps from the Swiss Federal
Statistical Office (available at http:// Finally, we thank
Philippe Crochet, Massimiliano Zappa,
two anonymous reviewers, and the
associated editor for valuable
comments on an earlier version of this
Water Resources Research 10.1002/2014WR015712
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... Under this convention, estimating runoff components incorrectly can still produce reasonable total hydrological simulation runoff estimates (Z. . For instance, results from Duethmann et al. (2015) and Finger et al. (2015) showed that an overestimation of the meltwater-runoff contribution can 10.1029/2023JD039176 15 of 20 be compensated by an underestimation of the rainfall-runoff contribution, especially in mountainous regions. Therefore, prospective studies require a better understanding of local hydrological and cryospheric processes in combination with multi-source data (Duethmann et al., 2014;Schaefli and Huss, 2011). ...
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Tibet's Qilian Mountains (QM) include critical water conservation areas and important ecological barriers, which help maintain downstream inland river oasis stability. For decades, contemporaneous climatic and cryospheric variation has severely impacted QM's hydrological processes, challenging local water resource management and sustainable development. However, due to prevalent data and methodological limitations, QM research has primarily focused on runoff change at a basin scale. Spatial distributions and temporal changes in runoff subsequently remain unclear. Based on multi‐source data and the literature, we estimated that QM's mountain outlets generate approximately 15.671 km³ in total annual runoff, exhibiting a spatially decreasing pattern from northeast to southwest. Moreover, runoff distribution and trend variation at seasonal and annual scales depend upon the river replenishment source type. Beginning in the 1950s and 1960s, eastern rain‐fed rivers experienced a downward trend while those dominated by meltwater or simultaneously fed by multiple sources in its central and western regions experienced an upward trend. As an integrated product of mixed multi‐factor effects, runoff is regulated by temperature, precipitation, and cryospheric meltwater. Moreover, the main controlling runoff factors varied seasonally under different water source concentrations. Annually, precipitation was the main driver for runoff change in the eastern region while, correspondingly, temperature was in the western region where glaciers and the snow line boundary predominant. Besides, this study highlighted that the existing literature has significant limitations in understanding interactions among different cryospheric components and hydrologic process mechanisms when exploring the reasons for runoff variations, which needs further exploration in the future.
... This response suggests the substantial influence to experiments 2, 3 and 6, which adopt a sequential calibration approach. The study that was conducted by Finger et al. (2015) showcased the benefits of calibrating a hydrological model using multiple data sets, thereby leading to improved estimation of runoff contribution. This finding is consistent with the current study, which highlights calibrating both SWE and streamflow as yielding superior results. ...
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In northern cold-temperate countries, a large portion of annual streamflow is produced by spring snowmelt, which often triggers floods. It is important to have spatial information about snow parameters such as snow water equivalent (SWE), which can be incorporated into hydrological models, making them more efficient tools for improved decision-making. The future Terrestrial Snow Mass Mission (TSMM) aims to provide high-resolution spatially distributed SWE information; thus, spatial SWE calibration should be considered along with conventional streamflow calibration for model optimization since the overall water balance is often a key objective in the hydrological modelling. The present research implements a unique spatial pattern metric in a multi-objective framework for calibration approach of hydrological models and attempts to determine whether raw SNODAS data can be utilized for hydrological model calibration. The SPAtial Efficiency (SPAEF) metric is explored for spatially calibrating SWE. The HYDROTEL hydrological model is applied to the Au Saumon River Watershed (∽1120 km2) in Eastern Canada using MSWEP precipitation data and ERA-5 land reanalysis temperature data as input to generate high-resolution SWE and streamflow. Different calibration experiments are performed combining Nash-Sutcliffe efficiency (NSE) for streamflow and root-mean-square error (RMSE), and SPAEF for SWE, using the Dynamically Dimensioned Search (DDS) and Pareto Archived Multi-Objective Optimization (PADDS) algorithms. Results of the study demonstrate that multi-objective calibration outperforms sequential calibration in terms of model performance. Traditional model calibration involving only streamflow produced slightly higher NSE values; however, the spatial distribution of SWE could not be adequately maintained. This study indicates that utilizing SPAEF for spatial calibration of snow parameters improved streamflow prediction compared to the conventional practice of using RMSE for calibration. SPAEF is further implied to be a more effective metric than RMSE for both sequential and multi-objective calibration. During validation, the calibration experiment incorporating multi-objective SPAEF exhibits enhanced performance in terms of NSE and Kling-Gupta Efficiency (KGE) compared to calibration experiment solely based on NSE. This observation supports the notion that incorporating SPAEF computed on raw SNODAS data within the calibration framework results in a more robust hydrological model.
... Due to the increased availability of worldwide datasets, there has been a lot of interest in incorporating two or more variables into the calibration of hydrological models. For example, several studies have made use of evapotranspiration calculations based on remote sensing [25][26][27][28][29][30], snow and glacier mass [31,32], soil moisture [33][34][35], and land surface temperature [36]. RS-based ET is one of the factors listed above that may be utilized to constrain the water balancerelated hydrological modeling parameters [37][38][39]. ...
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Climatic variability and the quantification of climate change impacts on hydrological parameters are persistently uncertain. Remote sensing aids valuable information to streamflow estimations and hydrological parameter projections. However, few studies have been implemented using remote sensing and CMIP6 data embedded with hydrological modeling. This research studied how changing climate influences the hydro-climatic parameters based on the earth system models that participated in the sixth phase of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP6). GRACE evapotranspiration data were forced into the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) to project hydrologic responses to future climatic conditions in the Hongshui River basin (HRB) model. A novel approach based on climate elasticity was utilized to determine the extent to which climate variability affects stream flow. CMIP6 SSPs (shared socioeconomic pathways) for the second half of the 20th century (1960-2020) and 21st century (2021-2100) projected precipitation (5-16%) for the whole Hongshui River basin (HRB). The ensemble of GCMs projected an increase of 2 • C in mean temperature. The stream flow is projected to increase by 4.2% under SSP-1.26, 6.2% under SSP-2.45, 8.45% under SSP-3.70, and 9.5% under SSP-5.85, based on the average changes throughout the various long-term future scenarios. We used the climate elasticity method and found that climate change contributes 11% to streamflow variability in the Hongshui River basin (HRB). Despite the uncertainty in projected hydrological variables, most members of the modeling ensemble present encouraging findings for future methods of water resource management.
... For the glacierized headwater catchments, the HBV-light model was used (Seibert & Vis, 2012;Seibert et al., 2018). HBV-light has been used in many other studies to simulate streamflow of alpine catchments (e.g., Alvarez- Garreton et al., 2021;Finger et al., 2015;Girons Lopez et al., 2020;Konz & Seibert, 2010;Van Tiel et al., 2018). It is a semidistributed model using elevation (in this study at intervals of 100 m and for the glacier 10 m) and aspect classes (three classes) and it includes the delta-h parametrization to simulate glacier retreat (Huss et al., 2010;Seibert et al., 2018) and a snow redistribution module, essential in high elevation catchments . ...
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Droughts can lead to extreme low flow situations in rivers, with resulting severe impacts. Upstream snow and ice melt in many of the world's mountain water towers can alleviate the hydrological consequences of drought, yet global warming threatens the cryosphere. To improve the understanding of melt water contributions during drought in the case of future glacier retreat, we developed stress‐test storyline scenarios to model streamflow and tested them in the European river Rhine basin. Meteorological conditions of past drought and low flow years in Europe, 1976, 2003, and 2018, were repeated at three future moments in time, representing nowadays, near future and far future conditions. The latter two conditions were obtained by climate projections under the RCP8.5 scenario. Results show that the low flow situations caused by the meteorological drought situations aggravate in future conditions, more so for the far future and for the year 2003 because of the relatively large glacier ice melt contribution in the past. Summer (July–September) streamflow may decline by 5%–25% far downstream and 30%–70% upstream and the duration of extreme low flow situations may double compared to the selected past drought events. These results are relevant for the Rhine as a major European river but stand exemplary for many other river basins and highlight the importance of cryospheric changes for downstream low flow situations in a changing climate. The stress‐test scenarios allow a glimpse into future extreme low flow events aiding adaptation planning, and might be adapted to include other important low flow drivers.
... On the other hand, the operational H SAF snow product, SE-E-SEVIRI(H10), has been validated against ground-based snow measurements or other satellite data over the past decade with valuable but somewhat limited studies (Piazzi et al. 2019, Çoşkun 2016, Surer et al. 2014, Surer and Akyurek, 2012. There are several studies on the usage of MODIS snow cover data in hydrological applications (Tong et al. 2021, Duethmann et al. 2020, Han et al. 2019, Uysal et al. 2016, Finger et al. 2015, He et al. 2014, Franz and Karsten 2013, Sorman et al. 2009Li and Wiliams 2008, Parajka and Blöschl 2008, Tekeli et al. 2005. However, there is only a few for H SAF snow product SE-E-SEVIRI(H10) (Montero et al. 2016(Montero et al. , Çoşkun 2016. ...
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Satellite technology offers alternative products for hydrological applications; however, products should be validated with benchmark models and/or data sets for operational purposes. This study assesses the performance of the European Organization for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT) Satellite Application Facility on Support to Operational Hydrology and Water Management (H SAF) snow products of snow detection, SE-E-SEVIRI(H10), and snow water equivalent, SWE-E(H13), data sets over a mountainous catchment in the Upper Euphrates, Turkey. Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) snow extent is used as a benchmark. Two different conceptual hydrological models are employed to obtain reliable results over the period 2008–2020. First, the spatio-temporal assessment of satellite-derived snow cover area (SCA) data is evaluated, followed by the calibration/validation of hydrological models, SRM and HBV, for impact analysis and hydro-validation of satellite snow products, respectively. SRM, demanding SCA as one of the primary forcings, reveals high Kling Gupta Efficiency, KGE, (0.75–0.89) in the impact analysis of satellite data. In hydro-validation analysis, noteworthy Nash–Sutcliffe Efficiency, NSE (0.89–0.92), values are obtained for SCA derived by SE-E-SEVIRI(H10) and MODIS as compared to simulated HBV model results. SWE-E(H13) product is also valuable since snow water equivalent (SWE) values are rarely available for mountainous areas. However, this product seems to need further attention. Overall results show the degree of applicability and usefulness of H SAF snow data in hydrological applications; thus, the strong need to disseminate the products is highlighted.
... Most researchers generally prefer to run the model calibration with the longest available datasets to obtain a more ideal and representative model calibration [22,23]. Though the length of the available datasets is essential, the information and its efficiency are the main perspectives of model calibration [24,25]. Besides the scarcity of the data, a quantitative understanding of model accuracy is also essential. ...
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Minimum data length is vital to guarantee accuracy in hydrological analysis. In practice, it is sometimes determined by the experiences of hydrologists, leading the selection of the acceptable minimum data length to an arguable issue among hydrologists. Therefore, this study aims to investigate the impact of data length on parameter estimation and hydrological model performance, especially for data-scarce regions. Using four primary datasets from river basins in Japan and USA, subsets were generated from a 28-year dataset and used to estimate data adjustment parameters based on the aridity index approach to improve the parameter estimation. The influence of their length on hydrological analysis is evaluated using the Xinanjiang (XAJ) model; also, the effectiveness of outlier removal on the parameter estimation is checked using regression analysis. Here, we present the estimation of the most acceptable minimum data length in parameter estimation for assessing the XAJ model and the effectiveness of parameter adjustment by removing the outliers in observed datasets. The results show that between 10-year to 13-year datasets are generally sufficient for the robust estimate of the most acceptable minimum data length in the XAJ model. Moreover, removing outliers can improve parameter estimation in all study basins.
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In this paper we implement a degree day snowmelt and glacier melt model in the Dynamic fluxEs and ConnectIvity for Predictions of HydRology (DECIPHeR) model. The purpose is to develop a hydrological model that can be applied to large glaciated and snow-fed catchments yet is computationally efficient enough to include model uncertainty in streamflow predictions. The model is evaluated by simulating monthly discharge at six gauging stations in the Naryn River catchment (57 833 km2) in central Asia over the period 1951 to a variable end date between 1980 and 1995 depending on the availability of discharge observations. The spatial distribution of simulated snow cover is validated against MODIS weekly snow extent for the years 2001–2007. Discharge is calibrated by selecting parameter sets using Latin hypercube sampling and assessing the model performance using six evaluation metrics. The model shows good performance in simulating monthly discharge for the calibration period (NSE is 0.74
Study region This study focuses on three data-limited inland river basins in the arid Hexi Corridor, Northwest China. Study focus The lack of ground-based observation data for estimating potential evapotranspiration (PET) usually limits the streamflow simulation. This study explored the feasibility of using three gridded PET datasets (GLDAS, GLEAM, and ERA5) to force the hydrologic model. The hydrologic performance of these PET datasets was investigated using the HBV-light model. New hydrological insights for the region The results show that GLEAM performs best in estimating PET on both a daily and monthly scale. GLDAS generally captures the seasonal variations and patterns well but shows a higher estimation in magnitude. For the hydrological simulation, all three PET datasets can be used as forcing data to drive the HBV-light model, as the Nash-Sutcliffe efficiency (NSE) values are greater than 0.64 during the validation period for the three PET inputs in the three basins. The magnitude and temporal signal of PET forcing data do not significantly affect streamflow simulations of the HBV-light. The model mainly adjusts the water content of the soil box (WCS) to eliminate the efficiency loss caused by the PET magnitude difference to achieve the best simulation results.
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Glacier melt provides important contributions to streamflow in many mountainous regions. Hydrologic model calibration in glacier-fed catchments is difficult because errors in modelling snow accumulation can be offset by compensating errors in glacier melt. This problem is particularly severe in catchments with modest glacier cover, where goodness-of-fit statistics such as the Nash-Sutcliffe model efficiency may not be highly sensitive to the streamflow variance associated with glacier melt. While glacier mass balance measurements can be used to aid model calibration, they are absent for most catchments. We introduce the use of glacier volume change determined from repeated glacier mapping in a guided GLUE (generalized likelihood uncertainty estimation) procedure to calibrate a hydrologic model. This approach is applied to the Mica basin in the Canadian portion of the Columbia River Basin using the HBV-EC hydrologic model. Use of glacier volume change in the calibration procedure effectively reduced parameter uncertainty and helped to ensure that the model was accurately predicting glacier mass balance as well as streamflow. The seasonal and interannual variations in glacier melt contributions were assessed by running the calibrated model with historic glacier cover and also after converting all glacierized areas to alpine land cover in the model setup. Sensitivity of modelled streamflow to historic changes in glacier cover and to projected glacier changes for a climate warming scenario was assessed by comparing simulations using static glacier cover to simulations that accommodated dynamic changes in glacier area. Although glaciers in the Mica basin only cover 5% of the watershed, glacier ice melt contributes up to 25% and 35% of streamflow in August and September, respectively. The mean annual contribution of ice melt to total streamflow varied between 3 and 9% and averaged 6%. Glacier ice melt is particularly important during warm, dry summers following winters with low snow accumulation and early snowpack depletion. Although the sensitivity of streamflow to historic glacier area changes is small and within parameter uncertainties, our results suggest that glacier area changes have to be accounted for in future projections of late summer streamflow. Our approach provides an effective and widely applicable method to calibrate hydrologic models in glacier fed catchments, as well as to quantify the magnitude and timing of glacier melt contributions to streamflow.
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Streamflow cannot be measured directly and is typically derived with a rating curve model. Unfortunately, this causes uncertainties in the streamflow data and also influences the calibration of rainfall-runoff models if they are conditioned on such data. However, it is currently unknown to what extent these uncertainties propagate to rainfall-runoff predictions. This study therefore presents a quantitative approach to rigorously consider the impact of the rating curve on the prediction uncertainty of water levels. The uncertainty analysis is performed within a formal Bayesian framework and the contributions of rating curve versus rainfall-runoff model parameters to the total predictive uncertainty are addressed. A major benefit of the approach is its independence from the applied rainfall-runoff model and rating curve. In addition, it only requires already existing hydrometric data. The approach was successfully tested on a small urbanized basin in Poland, where a dedicated monitoring campaign was performed in 2011. The results of our case study indicate that the uncertainty in calibration data derived by the rating curve method may be of the same relevance as rainfall-runoff model parameters themselves. A conceptual limitation of the approach presented is that it is limited to water level predictions. Nevertheless, regarding flood level predictions, the Bayesian framework seems very promising because it (i) enables the modeler to incorporate informal knowledge from easily accessible information and (ii) better assesses the individual error contributions. Especially the latter is important to improve the predictive capability of hydrological models.
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Glaciers all over the world are expected to continue to retreat due to the global warming throughout the 21st century. Consequently, future seasonal water availability might become scarce once glacier areas have declined below a certain threshold affecting future water management strategies. Particular attention should be paid to glaciers located in a karstic environment, as parts of the meltwater can be drained by underlying karst systems, making it difficult to assess water availability. In this study tracer experiments, karst modeling and glacier melt modeling are combined in order to identify flow paths in a high alpine, glacierized, karstic environment (Glacier de la Plaine Morte, Switzerland) and to investigate current and predict future downstream water availability. Flow paths through the karst underground were determined with natural and fluorescent tracers. Subsequently, geologic information and the findings from tracer experiments were assembled in a karst model. Finally, glacier melt projections driven with a climate scenario were performed to discuss future water availability in the area surrounding the glacier. The results suggest that during late summer glacier meltwater is rapidly drained through well-developed channels at the glacier bottom to the north of the glacier, while during low flow season meltwater enters into the karst and is drained to the south. Climate change projections with the glacier melt model reveal that by the end of the century glacier melt will be significantly reduced in the summer, jeopardizing water availability in glacier-fed karst springs.
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Himalayas has one of the largest concentrations of glaciers and permanent snow fields. These are sensitive to climate change. Snow and glacier runoffs are important sources of water for the Himalayan rivers. Due to steep slopes, all these streams are potential sites for hydropower generation. To understand the powerpotential of small sub-basins, a snowmelt run-off model has been developed for Malana nala located in the Parbati river basin near Kullu in Himachal Pradesh and validated at the adjacent Tosh nala in the same basin. In the model, information generated through remote sensing techniques were used in conjunction with the daily maximum and minimum temperatures, rainfall and snow fall. This model is now extended to understand the effect of global warming in stream runoff and power generation. To understand changes in runoff and power potential, possible changes in the input parameters were estimated by considering 1°C rise in temperature from 2004 to 2040. Snow line is calculated for 2040 using present altitude and lapse rate. Future change in areal extent of glacier and permanent snow were estimated using mass balance, response time and rate of melting at terminus for all glaciers in the basin. The model was validated for all seasons in 2004 and for selected seasons from 1997 to 2002. The error in runoff estimate was observed between 2 and 5%, except for the summer of 2002. The model suggests overall reduction in stream runoff by 8-28%, depending on the season.
Variations in 22 hydrological variables were considered for 8 watersheds in Iceland to analyse the quantitative impact of variations in climate on hydrology during the period 1971-2006. Observed streamflow characteristics were examined together with information about rain/snow fraction, snow storage, snow and glacier melting derived from gridded precipitation and temperature data using a simple temperature-index melt model. The effect of the observed temperature and precipitation variations was examined by comparing subsets of the data containing the 25% coldest and warmest and the 25% wettest and driest years of each series. The seasonality of streamflow of all catchments and timing of hydrological events were found to be sensitive to differences of 1.1-1.4 degrees C in the annual temperature between the warm and cold data subsets. Snow storage was smaller and depleted earlier and the onset of spring snowmelt was shifted several weeks earlier in warm years, while glacial melt volumes increased by 20-40%. These changes caused greater discharge in winter and spring and less discharge in summer, except for glacierized catchments where summer flow was maintained by glacier melt. Annual precipitation was 40-58% greater in the wet compared with the dry data subsets, resulting in substantial seasonal and annual increases of rain, snow storage and snowmelt, streamflow volumes and flood occurrence rate. The seasonal distribution and timing of hydrological events were, however, usually not systematically different. Snow storage and glaciers are found to exert a strong influence on streamflow in Icelandic river catchments, making them sensitive to climate variations. The nature of the hydrological response is not spatially uniform but depends on location, altitude distribution and catchment type.
Detailed soil surveys involve costly and time-consuming work and require expert knowledge. Since soil surveys provide information to meet a wide range of needs, new methods are necessary to map soils quickly and accurately. In this study, multilayer perceptron artificial neural networks (ANNs) were developed to map soil units using digital elevation model (DEM) attributes. Several optimal ANNs were produced based on a number of input data and hidden units. The approach used test and validation areas to calculate the accuracy of interpolated and extrapolated data. The results showed that the system and level of soil classification employed had a direct effect on the accuracy of the results. At the lowest level, smaller errors were observed with the World Reference Base (WRB) classification criteria than the Soil Taxonomy (ST) system, but more soil classes could be predicted when using ST (7 soils in the case of ST vs. 5 with WRB). Training errors were below 11% for all the ANN models applied, while the test error (interpolation error) and validation error (extrapolation error) were as high as 50% and 70%, respectively. As expected, soil prediction using a higher level of classification presented a better overall level of accuracy. To obtain better predictions, in addition to DEM attributes, data related to landforms and/or lithology as soil-forming factors, should be used as ANN input data. Key Words: digital elevation model attributes, multilayer perceptron, soil classification, soil-forming factors, soil survey