Dynamics of hydrological-model parameters: mechanisms, problems and solutions

Lan, Tian; Lin, Kairong; Xu, Chong-Yu; Tan, Xuezhi; Chen, Xiaohong

It has been demonstrated that the application of time-varying hydrological-model parameters based on dynamic catchment behavior significantly improves the accuracy and robustness of conventional models. However, the fundamental problems for calibrating dynamic parameters still need to be addressed. In this study, five calibration schemes for dynamic parameters in hydrological models were designed to investigate the underlying causes of poor model performance. The five schemes were assessed with respect to the model performance in different flow phases, the transferability of the dynamic parameters to different time periods, the state variables and fluxes time series, and the response of the dynamic parameter set to the dynamic catchment characteristics. Furthermore, the potential reasons for the poor response of the dynamic parameter set to the catchment dynamics were investigated. The results showed that the underlying causes of poor model performance included time-invariant parameters, “compensation” among parameters, high dimensionality and abrupt shifts in the parameters. The recommended calibration scheme exhibited good performance and overcame these problems by characterizing the dynamic behavior of the catchments. The main reason for the poor response of the dynamic parameter set to the catchment dynamics may be the poor convergence performance of the parameters. In addition, the assessment results of the state variables and fluxes and the convergence performance of the parameters provided robust indications of the dominant response modes of the hydrological models in different sub-periods or catchments with distinguishing catchment characteristics.

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Lan, Tian / Lin, Kairong / Xu, Chong-Yu / et al: Dynamics of hydrological-model parameters: mechanisms, problems and solutions. 2020. Copernicus Publications.

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