Sensitivity and uncertainty analysis of mesoscale model downscaled hydro-meteorological variables for discharge prediction

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Abstract

Precipitation and Reference Evapotranspiration (ETo) are the most important variables for rainfall–runoff modelling. However, it is not always possible to get access to them from ground-based measurements, particularly in ungauged catchments. This study explores the performance of rainfall and ETo data from the global European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) ERA interim reanalysis data for the discharge prediction. The Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) mesoscale model coupled with the NOAH Land Surface Model is used for the retrieval of hydro-meteorological variables by downscaling ECMWF datasets. The conceptual Probability Distribution Model (PDM) is chosen for this study for the discharge prediction. The input data and model parameter sensitivity analysis and uncertainty estimations are taken into account for the PDM calibration and prediction in the case study catchment in England following the Generalized Likelihood Uncertainty Estimation approach. The goodness of calibration and prediction uncertainty is judged on the basis of the p-factor (observations bracketed by the prediction uncertainty) and the r-factor (achievement of small uncertainty band). The overall analysis suggests that the uncertainty estimates using WRF downscaled ETo have slightly smaller p and r values (p= 0.65; r= 0.58) as compared to ground-based observation datasets (p= 0.71; r= 0.65) during the validation and hence promising for discharge prediction. On the contrary, WRF precipitation has the worst performance, and further research is needed for its improvement (p= 0.04; r= 0.10). Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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