Combining split-sample testing and hidden Markov modelling to assess the robustness of hydrological models

Guilpart, Etienne; Espanmanesh, Vahid; Tilmant, Amaury; Anctil, François

The impacts of climate and land-use changes make the stationary assumption in hydrology obsolete. Moreover, there is still considerable uncertainty regarding the future evolution of the Earth’s climate and the extent of the alteration of flow regimes. Climate change impact assessment in the water sector typically involves a modelling chain in which a hydrological model is needed to generate hydrologic projections from climate forcings. Considering the inherent uncertainty of the future climate, it is crucial to assess the performance of the hydrologic model over a wide range of climates and their corresponding hydrologic conditions. In this paper, numerous, contrasted, climate sequences identified by a hidden Markov model (HMM) are used in a differential split-sample testing framework to assess the robustness of a hydrologic model. The differential split-sample test based on a HMM classification is implemented on the time series of monthly river discharges in the upper Senegal River basin in West Africa, a region characterized by the presence of low-frequency climate signals. A comparison with the results obtained using classical rupture tests shows that the diversity of hydrologic sequences identified using the HMM can help with assessing the robustness of the hydrologic model.

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Guilpart, Etienne / Espanmanesh, Vahid / Tilmant, Amaury / et al: Combining split-sample testing and hidden Markov modelling to assess the robustness of hydrological models. 2021. Copernicus Publications.

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