Simulating the hydrological processes of an inland river basin can help provide the scientific guidance to the policies of water allocation among different subbasins and water resource management groups within the subbasins. However, it is difficult to simulate the hydrological processes of an inland river basin with hydrological models due to the non-consistent hydrological characteristics of the entire basin. This study presents a solution to this problem with a case study about the hydrological process simulation in an inland river basin in China, Heihe River basin. It is divided into the upper, middle, and lower reaches based on the distinctive hydrological characteristics in the Heihe River basin, and three hydrological models are selected, applied, and tested to simulate the hydrological cycling processes for each reach. The upper reach is the contributing area with the complex runoff generation processes, therefore, the hydrological informatic modeling system (HIMS) is utilized due to its combined runoff generation mechanisms. The middle reach has strong impacts of intensive human activities on the interactions of surface and subsurface flows, so a conceptual water balance model is applied to simulate the water balance process. For the lower reach, as the dissipative area with groundwater dominating the hydrological process, a groundwater modeling system with the embedment of MODFLOW model is applied to simulate the groundwater dynamics. Statistical parameters and water balance analysis prove that the three models have excellent performances in simulating the hydrological process of the three reaches. Therefore, it is an effective way to simulate the hydrological process of inland river basin with multiple hydrological models according to the characteristics of each subbasin.
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