This study explored the influence of the spatial resolution of a gridded weather dataset when inputted in the soil and water assessment tool (SWAT) over the Garonne River watershed. Several datasets are compared: ground-based weather stations, the 8-km SAFRAN product (Système d’Analyse Fournissant des Renseignements Adaptés à la Nivologie), the 0.5° CFSR product (Climate Forecasting System Reanalysis) and several derived SAFRAN grids upscaled to 16, 32, 64 and 128 km. The SWAT model, calibrated on weather stations, was successively run with each gridded weather dataset. Performances with SAFRAN up to 64 or 128 km were poor, due to a contraction of the spatial variance of daily precipitation. Performances with 8-km SAFRAN are similar to that of the aggregated 16- and 32-km SAFRAN grids. The ~30-km CFSR product was found to perform well at some sites, while in others, its performance was considerably inferior because of grid points where precipitation was overestimated. The same problem was found in the calibration, where data at some weather stations did not appear to be representative of the subwatershed in which they are used to compute hydrology. These results suggest that the difference in the representation of the climate was more influential than its spatial resolution, an analysis that was confirmed by similar performances obtained with the SWAT model calibrated on the 16- and 32-km SAFRAN grids. However, the better performances obtained from these two weather datasets than from the ground-based stations’ dataset confirmed the advantage of using the SAFRAN product in SWAT modelling.
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