Temporally weighted average curve number method for daily runoff simulation

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Abstract

The modified Soil Conservation Service curve number (CN) method is widely used in long-term continuous models to predict daily surface runoff. However, it has been shown that this method gives poor results in reproducing peak flows in high rainfall periods. This is because there is an inaccuracy stemming from the model algorithm as it adjusts the daily runoff curve number as a function of soil moisture content at the end of the previous day. This paper proposes an alternative daily based curve number technique that can provide better prediction of daily runoff during the high flow season. The proposed method uses the temporally weighted average curve number (TWA-CN) to estimate daily surface runoff, while considering the effect of rainfall during a given day as well as the antecedent soil moisture condition. To test the applicability of the TWA-CN method, it was incorporated with the long-term, continuous simulation watershed models SWAT and SWAT-G. Simulations were conducted for the Miho River watershed located in the middle of South Korea. The graphical displays and statistics of the determination coefficient (R2) and the Nash-Sutcliffe model efficiency (NSE) of the observed and simulated daily runoff indicated that the modified SWAT with the TWA-CN method may provide better runoff prediction (R2 = 0.837, NSE = 0.833) than the original SWAT (R2 = 0.815, NSE = 0.824). Likewise, the determination coefficient (R2 = 0.816) and the Nash-Sutcliffe efficiency (NSE = 0.834) for the modified SWAT-G are also higher than the original version (R2 = 0.782, NSE = 0.825). It is expected that the improved capability in predicting surface runoff using the suggested CN estimate method will provide a sound contribution to the accurate simulations of water yield.

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