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Open AccessArticle

General Assessment of the Operational Utility of National Water Model Reservoir Inflows for the Bureau of Reclamation Facilities

1
CIRES, University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, CO 80309, USA
2
NOAA/Physical Sciences Division, Boulder, CO 80305, USA
3
National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, CO 80301, USA
4
Research and Development, Bureau of Reclamation Denver, Denver, CO 80215, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Water 2020, 12(10), 2897; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12102897
Received: 8 September 2020 / Revised: 8 October 2020 / Accepted: 14 October 2020 / Published: 16 October 2020
This work investigates the utility of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Water Model (NWM) for water management operations by assessing the total inflow into a select number of reservoirs across the Central and Western U.S. Total inflow is generally an unmeasured quantity, though critically important for anticipating both floods and shortages in supply over a short-term (hourly) to sub-seasonal (monthly) time horizon. The NWM offers such information at over 5000 reservoirs across the U.S., however, its skill at representing inflow processes is largely unknown. The goal of this work is to understand the drivers for both well performing and poor performing NWM inflows such that managers can get a sense of the capability of NWM to capture natural hydrologic processes and in some cases, the effects of upstream management. We analyzed the inflows for a subset of Bureau of Reclamation (BoR) reservoirs within the NWM over the long-term simulations (retrospectively, seven years) and for short, medium and long-range operational forecast cycles over a one-year period. We utilize ancillary reservoir characteristics (e.g., physical and operational) to explain variation in inflow performance across the selected reservoirs. In general, we find that NWM inflows in snow-driven basins outperform those in rain-driven, and that assimilated basin area, upstream management, and calibrated basin area all influence the NWM’s ability to reproduce daily reservoir inflows. The final outcome of this work proposes a framework for how the NWM reservoir inflows can be useful for reservoir management, linking reservoir purposes with the forecast cycles and retrospective simulations. View Full-Text
Keywords: national water model; water management; total inflow; bureau of reclamation; reservoir characterization; reservoir inflows; retrospective evaluation; forecast evaluation; distributed hydrological modelling; reclamation information sharing environment (rise) national water model; water management; total inflow; bureau of reclamation; reservoir characterization; reservoir inflows; retrospective evaluation; forecast evaluation; distributed hydrological modelling; reclamation information sharing environment (rise)
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Viterbo, F.; Read, L.; Nowak, K.; Wood, A.W.; Gochis, D.; Cifelli, R.; Hughes, M. General Assessment of the Operational Utility of National Water Model Reservoir Inflows for the Bureau of Reclamation Facilities. Water 2020, 12, 2897.

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