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Water 2017, 9(11), 866; doi:10.3390/w9110866

Runoff Simulation by SWAT Model Using High-Resolution Gridded Precipitation in the Upper Heihe River Basin, Northeastern Tibetan Plateau

Key Laboratory of Water Cycle and Related Land Surface Processes, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China
University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
Key Laboratory of Ecohydrology of Inland River Basin, Northwest Institute of Eco-Environment and Resources, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Lanzhou 730000, China
College of Earth Environmental Sciences, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou 730000, China
Department of Hydraulic Engineering, Tsinghua University, Beijing 100084, China
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 25 September 2017 / Revised: 29 October 2017 / Accepted: 2 November 2017 / Published: 7 November 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Water Management within Inland River Watershed)
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The scarcity and uneven distribution of precipitation stations in the inland river basins of the Northeastern Tibetan Plateau restrict the application of the distributed hydrological model and spatial analysis of water balance component characteristics. This study used the upper Heihe River Basin as a case study, and daily gridded precipitation data with 3 km resolution based on the spatial interpolation of gauged stations and a regional climate model were used to construct a soil and water assessment tool (SWAT) model. The aim was to validate the precision of high-resolution gridded precipitation for hydrological simulation in data-scarce regions; a scale transformation method was proposed by building virtual stations and calculating the lapse rate to overcome the defects of the SWAT model using traditional precipitation station data. The gridded precipitation was upscaled from the grid to the sub-basin scale to accurately represent sub-basin precipitation input data. A satisfactory runoff simulation was achieved, and the spatial variability of water balance components was analysed. Results show that the precipitation lapse rate ranges from 40 mm/km to 235 mm/km and decreases from the southeastern to the northwestern areas. The SWAT model achieves monthly runoff simulation compared with gauged runoff from 2000 to 2014; the determination coefficients are higher than 0.71, the Nash–Sutcliffe efficiencies are higher than 0.76, and the percentage bias is controlled within ±15%. Meadow and sparse vegetation are the major water yield landscapes, and the elevation band from 3500 m to 4500 m is the major water yield area. Precipitation and evapotranspiration present a slightly increasing trend, whereas water yield and soil water content present a slightly decreasing trend. This finding indicates that the high-resolution gridded precipitation data fully depict its spatial heterogeneity, and scale transformation significantly promotes the application of the distributed hydrological model in inland river basins. The spatial variability of water balance components can be quantified to provide references for the integrated assessment and management of basin water resources in data-scarce regions. View Full-Text
Keywords: Heihe River Basin; SWAT model; gridded precipitation; water balance components; runoff simulation Heihe River Basin; SWAT model; gridded precipitation; water balance components; runoff simulation

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Ruan, H.; Zou, S.; Yang, D.; Wang, Y.; Yin, Z.; Lu, Z.; Li, F.; Xu, B. Runoff Simulation by SWAT Model Using High-Resolution Gridded Precipitation in the Upper Heihe River Basin, Northeastern Tibetan Plateau. Water 2017, 9, 866.

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