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Water 2018, 10(9), 1169; https://doi.org/10.3390/w10091169

Impact of Rain Gauges Distribution on the Runoff Simulation of a Small Mountain Catchment in Southern Ecuador

1
Departamento de Recursos Hídricos y Ciencias Ambientales, Universidad de Cuenca, Av. 12 de Abril, Cuenca 010207, Ecuador
2
Facultad de Ingeniería, Universidad de Cuenca, Av. 12 de Abril, Cuenca 010203, Ecuador
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 10 July 2018 / Revised: 15 August 2018 / Accepted: 19 August 2018 / Published: 31 August 2018
(This article belongs to the Section Hydrology)
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Abstract

In places with high spatiotemporal rainfall variability, such as mountain regions, input data could be a large source of uncertainty in hydrological modeling. Here we evaluate the impact of rainfall estimation on runoff modeling in a small páramo catchment located in the Zhurucay Ecohydrological Observatory (7.53 km2) in the Ecuadorian Andes, using a network of 12 rain gauges. First, the HBV-light semidistributed model was analyzed in order to select the best model structure to represent the observed runoff and its subflow components. Then, we developed six rainfall monitoring scenarios to evaluate the impact of spatial rainfall estimation in model performance and parameters. Finally, we explored how a model calibrated with far-from-perfect rainfall estimation would perform using new improved rainfall data. Results show that while all model structures were able to represent the overall runoff, the standard model structure outperformed the others for simulating subflow components. Model performance (NSeff) was improved by increasing the quality of spatial rainfall estimation from 0.31 to 0.80 and from 0.14 to 0.73 for calibration and validation period, respectively. Finally, improved rainfall data enhanced the runoff simulation from a model calibrated with scarce rainfall data (NSeff 0.14) from 0.49 to 0.60. These results confirm that in mountain regions model uncertainty is highly related to spatial rainfall and, therefore, to the number and location of rain gauges. View Full-Text
Keywords: rainfall-runoff modeling; rainfall monitoring; precipitation estimation; modeling uncertainty; páramo ecosystem rainfall-runoff modeling; rainfall monitoring; precipitation estimation; modeling uncertainty; páramo ecosystem
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Sucozhañay, A.; Célleri, R. Impact of Rain Gauges Distribution on the Runoff Simulation of a Small Mountain Catchment in Southern Ecuador. Water 2018, 10, 1169.

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