The current evaluations of global land data assimilation system (GLDAS) runoff were generally limited to the observation-rich areas. At the global and hemispheric scales, we assessed different runoff components performance of GLDAS (1.0 and 2.1) using the University of New Hampshire and Global Runoff Data Centre (UNH-GRDC) dataset. The results suggest that GLDAS simulations show considerable uncertainties, particularly in partition of surface and subsurface runoffs, in snowmelt runoff modeling, and in capturing the northern peak time. GLDAS1.0-CLM (common land model) produced more surface runoff almost globally; GLDAS-Noah generated more surface runoff over the northern middle-high latitudes and more subsurface runoff in the remaining areas; while the partition in GLDAS1.0-VIC (variable infiltration capacity) is almost opposite to that in Noah. Comparing to GLDAS1.0-Noah, GLDAS2.1-Noah improved the premature snow-melting tendency, but its snowmelt-runoff peak magnitude was excessively high in June and July. The discrepancies in northern primary peak times among precipitation and runoff is partly caused by the combination of rainfall and melting-snow over high-latitude, as well as the very different temporal–spatial distributions for snowmelt runoff simulated by GLDAS models. This paper can provide valuable guidance for GLDAS users, and contribute to the further improvement of hydrological parameterized schemes.
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