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Calibrating a Hydrological Model by Stratifying Frozen Ground Types and Seasons in a Cold Alpine Basin

by Yi Zhao 1, Zhuotong Nan 1,2,*, Wenjun Yu 3 and Ling Zhang 4
1
Key Laboratory of Ministry of Education on Virtual Geographic Environment, Nanjing Normal University, Nanjing 210023, China
2
Jiangsu Center for Collaborative Innovation in Geographical Information Resource Development and Application, Nanjing 210023, China
3
School of Hydrology and Water Resources, Nanjing University of Information Science & Technology, Nanjing 210023, China
4
Key Laboratory of Remote Sensing of Gansu Province, Northwest Institute of Eco-Environment and Resources, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Lanzhou 730000, China
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Water 2019, 11(5), 985; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11050985
Received: 3 April 2019 / Revised: 5 May 2019 / Accepted: 8 May 2019 / Published: 10 May 2019
(This article belongs to the Section Hydrology)
Frozen ground and precipitation seasonality may strongly affect hydrological processes in a cold alpine basin, but the calibration of a hydrological model rarely considers their impacts on model parameters, likely leading to considerable simulation biases. In this study, we conducted a case study in a typical alpine catchment, the Babao River basin, in Northwest China, using the distributed hydrology–soil–vegetation model (DHSVM), to investigate the impacts of frozen ground type and precipitation seasonality on model parameters. The sensitivity analysis identified seven sensitive parameters in the DHSVM, amid which soil model parameters are found sensitive to the frozen ground type and land cover/vegetation parameters sensitive to dry and wet seasons. A stratified calibration approach that considers the impacts on model parameters of frozen soil types and seasons was then proposed and implemented by the particle swarm optimization method. The results show that the proposed calibration approach can obviously improve simulation accuracy in modeling streamflow in the study basin. The seasonally stratified calibration has an advantage in controlling evapotranspiration and surface flow in rainy periods, while the spatially stratified calibration considering frozen soil type enhances the simulation of base flow. In a typical cold alpine area without sufficient measured parametric values, this approach can outperform conventional calibration approaches in providing more robust parameter values. The underestimation in the April streamflow also highlights the importance of improved physics in a hydrological model, without which the model calibration cannot fully compensate the gap. View Full-Text
Keywords: parameter calibration; cold alpine basin; frozen ground; precipitation seasonality; sensitivity analysis; distributed hydrology–soil–vegetation model parameter calibration; cold alpine basin; frozen ground; precipitation seasonality; sensitivity analysis; distributed hydrology–soil–vegetation model
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Zhao, Y.; Nan, Z.; Yu, W.; Zhang, L. Calibrating a Hydrological Model by Stratifying Frozen Ground Types and Seasons in a Cold Alpine Basin. Water 2019, 11, 985.

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