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Hydrology 2016, 3(2), 22; doi:10.3390/hydrology3020022

Is Catchment Classification Possible by Means of Multiple Model Structures? A Case Study Based on 99 Catchments in Germany

1
Department of Physical Geography, Trier University, Behringstraße, Trier D-54286, Germany
2
LP Engineering Deutschland GmbH, Max-Planck-Straße 6, Trier D-54296, Germany
3
Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (Eawag) Überlandstrasse 133, Dübendorf CH-8600, Switzerland
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Luca Brocca
Received: 15 April 2016 / Revised: 6 June 2016 / Accepted: 6 June 2016 / Published: 16 June 2016
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Abstract

This study investigates how the performance of a set of models depends on the catchments to which these models are applied. It examines (i) whether it is possible to identify a single best model for each of the catchments, or whether results are dominated by equifinality; and (ii) whether the ranking of model performance can be related to a set of predictors, such as climate and catchment characteristics. In order to explore these questions, we applied 12 model structures to 99 catchments in Germany, ranging in size from 10 km2 to 1826 km2. We examined model performance in terms of streamflow predictions, based on various indices. Our results indicate that for some catchments many structures perform equally well, whereas for other catchments a single structure clearly outperforms the others. We could not identify clear relationships between relative model performance and catchment characteristics. This result led us to conclude that for the spatial scales considered, it is difficult to base the selection of a lumped conceptual model based on a priori assessment, and we recommend a posteriori selection based on model comparisons. View Full-Text
Keywords: conceptual model; catchment; performance; equifinality conceptual model; catchment; performance; equifinality
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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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MDPI and ACS Style

Ley, R.; Hellebrand, H.; Casper, M.C.; Fenicia, F. Is Catchment Classification Possible by Means of Multiple Model Structures? A Case Study Based on 99 Catchments in Germany. Hydrology 2016, 3, 22.

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