Assessment of water resources from mountainous catchments is crucial for the development of upstream rural areas and downstream urban communities. However, lack of data in these mountainous catchments prevents full understanding of the response of hydrology or water resources to climate change. Meanwhile, hydrological modeling is challenging due to parameter uncertainty. In this work, one tributary of the Yarlung Zangbo River Basin (the upper stream of the Brahmaputra River) was used as a case study for hydrological modeling. Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM 3B42V7) data were utilized as a substitute for gauge-based rainfall data, and the capability of simulating precipitation, snow, and groundwater contributions to total runoff by the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) was investigated. The uncertainty in runoff proportions from precipitation, snowmelt, and groundwater was quantified by a batch-processing module. Hydrological signatures were finally used to help identify if the hydrological model simulated total runoff and corresponding proportions properly. The results showed that: (1) TRMM data were very useful for hydrological simulation in high and cold mountainous catchments; (2) precipitation was the primary contributor nearly all year round, reaching 56.5% of the total runoff on average; (3) groundwater occupied the biggest proportion during dry seasons, whereas snowmelt made a substantial contribution only in late spring and summer; and (4) hydrological signatures were useful for helping to evaluate the performance of the hydrological model.
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