Representation and improved parameterization of reservoir operation in hydrological and land-surface models
Reservoirs significantly affect flow regimes in watershed systems by changing the magnitude and timing of streamflows. Failure to represent these effects limits the performance of hydrological and land-surface models (H-LSMs) in the many highly regulated basins across the globe and limits the applicability of such models to investigate the futures of watershed systems through scenario analysis (e.g., scenarios of climate, land use, or reservoir regulation changes). An adequate representation of reservoirs and their operation in an H-LSM is therefore essential for a realistic representation of the downstream flow regime. In this paper, we present a general parametric reservoir operation model based on piecewise-linear relationships between reservoir storage, inflow, and release to approximate actual reservoir operations. For the identification of the model parameters, we propose two strategies: (a) a “generalized” parameterization that requires a relatively limited amount of data and (b) direct calibration via multi-objective optimization when more data on historical storage and release are available. We use data from 37 reservoir case studies located in several regions across the globe for developing and testing the model. We further build this reservoir operation model into the MESH (Modélisation Environmentale-Surface et Hydrologie) modeling system, which is a large-scale H-LSM. Our results across the case studies show that the proposed reservoir model with both parameter-identification strategies leads to improved simulation accuracy compared with the other widely used approaches for reservoir operation simulation. We further show the significance of enabling MESH with this reservoir model and discuss the interdependent effects of the simulation accuracy of natural processes and that of reservoir operations on the overall model performance. The reservoir operation model is generic and can be integrated into any H-LSM.