The parameterization of crop coefficients (kc
) is critical for determining a water balance. We used satellite-based and literature-based methods to derive kc
values for a distributed hydrologic model. We evaluated the impact of different kc
parametrization methods on the water balance and simulated hydrologic response at the basin and sub-basin scale. The hydrological model SPHY was calibrated and validated for a period of 15 years for the upper Segura basin (~2500 km2
) in Spain, which is characterized by a wide range of terrain, soil, and ecosystem conditions. The model was then applied, using six kc
parameterization methods, to determine their spatial and temporal impacts on actual evapotranspiration, streamflow, and soil moisture. The parameterization methods used include: (i) Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) observations from MODIS; (ii) seasonally-averaged NDVI patterns, cell-based and landuse-based; and (iii) literature-based tabular values per land use type. The analysis shows that the influence of different kc
parametrization methods on basin-level streamflow is relatively small and constant throughout the year, but it has a bigger effect on seasonal evapotranspiration and soil moisture. In the autumn especially, deviations can go up to about 15% of monthly streamflow. At smaller, sub-basin scale, deviations from the NDVI-based reference run can be more than 30%. Overall, the study shows that modeling of future hydrological changes can be improved by using remote sensing information for the parameterization of crop coefficients.