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Open AccessArticle

River Discharge Simulation in the High Andes of Southern Ecuador Using High-Resolution Radar Observations and Meteorological Station Data

1
INAMHI-Instituto Nacional de Meteorología e Hidrología, Quito 170507, Ecuador
2
Master’s Program in Water Resources, Universidad Técnica Particular de Loja (UTPL), San Cayetano Alto s/n, Loja 1101608, Ecuador
3
Department of Biological Sciences, Universidad Técnica Particular de Loja, San Cayetano Alto s/n, Loja 1101608, Ecuador
4
Facultad Agropecuaria y de Recursos Naturales Renovables, Carrera de Ingeniería Forestal, Universidad Nacional de Loja (UNL), Avenida Pio Jaramillo Alvarado s/n, Sector La Argelia, Loja 1101608, Ecuador
5
Departamento de Recursos Hídricos y Ciencias Ambientales, Facultad de Ingeniería, Facultad de Ciencias Agropecuarias, University of Cuenca, Av. 12 de abril, Cuenca EC010105, Ecuador
6
Department of Geology, Mine and Civil Engineering (DGMIC), Section Water Resources, Universidad Técnica Particular de Loja, San Cayetano Alto s/n, Loja 1101608, Ecuador
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Remote Sens. 2019, 11(23), 2804; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs11232804
Received: 10 September 2019 / Revised: 14 November 2019 / Accepted: 21 November 2019 / Published: 27 November 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Radar Meteorology)
The prediction of river discharge using hydrological models (HMs) is of utmost importance, especially in basins that provide drinking water or serve as recreation areas, to mitigate damage to civil structures and to prevent the loss of human lives. Therefore, different HMs must be tested to determine their accuracy and usefulness as early warning tools, especially for extreme precipitation events. This study simulated the river discharge in an Andean watershed, for which the distributed HM Runoff Prediction Model (RPM) and the semi-distributed HM Hydrologic Modelling System (HEC-HMS) were applied. As precipitation input data for the RPM model, high-resolution radar observations were used, whereas the HEC-HMS model used the available meteorological station data. The obtained simulations were compared to measured discharges at the outlet of the watershed. The results highlighted the advantages of distributed HM (RPM) in combination with high-resolution radar images, which estimated accurately the discharges in magnitude and time. The statistical analysis showed good to very good accordance between observed and simulated discharge for the RPM model (R2: 0.85–0.92; NSE: 0.77–0.82), whereas for the HEC-HMS model accuracies were lower (R2: 0.68–0.86; NSE: 0.26–0.78). This was not only due to the application of means values for the watershed (HEC-HMS), but also to limited rain gauge information. Generally, station network density in tropical mountain regions is poor, for which reason the high spatiotemporal precipitation variability cannot be detected. For hydrological simulation and forecasting flash floods, as well as for environmental investigations and water resource management, meteorological radars are the better choice. The greater availability of cost-effective systems at the present time also reduces implementation and maintenance costs of dense meteorological station networks. View Full-Text
Keywords: hydrological modelling; meteorological radar; RPM; HEC-HMS; Andes hydrological modelling; meteorological radar; RPM; HEC-HMS; Andes
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Mejía-Veintimilla, D.; Ochoa-Cueva, P.; Samaniego-Rojas, N.; Félix, R.; Arteaga, J.; Crespo, P.; Oñate-Valdivieso, F.; Fries, A. River Discharge Simulation in the High Andes of Southern Ecuador Using High-Resolution Radar Observations and Meteorological Station Data. Remote Sens. 2019, 11, 2804.

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