Water supply availability has significant impacts on the biggest base for commodity grain production: The Sanjiang Plain in northeast China. The SWAT (soil and water assessment tool) model and IHACRES (identification of unit hydrographs and component flows from rainfall, evapotranspiration and streamflow data) model were used for modelling streamflow variability in the upper Naoli River watershed to determine the applicability of hydrological models to the marsh rivers. Both the SWAT and IHACRES models were suitable for streamflow simulation, having R2
(coefficient of determination) and NS
(Nash–Sutcliffe) values greater than 0.7, and PBIAS
(percent bias) smaller than 25%. The IHACRES model was easy to use, with less data-preparation, and was found to be a better choice for runoff simulation in a watershed less affected by human activity. The simulation result was better in primeval times, i.e., 1956–1966, than the period 1967–2005, when its performance was found to be unfavorable. In contrast, the complex, processes-based SWAT model was found to be more appropriate for simultaneously simulating streamflow variability. In addition, the effects of land use change and human activities in the watershed—where agricultural activities are intensive—were evaluated. The study found that the SWAT model was potentially suitable for water resource planning and management.
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