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Article

A Comparative Evaluation of Lumped and Semi-Distributed Conceptual Hydrological Models: Does Model Complexity Enhance Hydrograph Prediction?

1
The United Graduate School of Agricultural Sciences, Gifu University, Gifu 501-1193, Japan
2
Faculty of Regional Environment Science, Tokyo University of Agriculture, Tokyo 156-8502, Japan
3
Faculty of Applied Biological Sciences, Gifu University, Gifu 501-1193, Japan
4
NTC-International Co., Ltd., Tokyo 136-0071, Japan
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Minxue He
Hydrology 2022, 9(5), 89; https://doi.org/10.3390/hydrology9050089
Received: 31 March 2022 / Revised: 9 May 2022 / Accepted: 11 May 2022 / Published: 15 May 2022
(This article belongs to the Section Hydrological and Hydrodynamic Processes and Modelling)
The prediction of hydrological phenomena using simpler hydrological models requires less computing power and input data compared to the more complex models. Ordinarily, a more complex, white-box model would be expected to have better predictive capabilities than a simple grey box or black-box model. But complexity may not necessarily translate to better prediction accuracy or might be unfeasible in data scarce areas or when computer power is limited. Therefore, the shift of hydrological science towards the more process-based models needs to be justified. To answer this, the paper compares 2 hydrological models: (a) the simpler tank model; and (b) the more complex TOPMODEL. More precisely, the difference in performance between tank model as a lumped model and the TOPMODEL concept as a semi-distributed model in Atari River catchment, in Eastern Uganda was conducted. The objectives were: (1) To calibrate tank model and TOPMODEL; (2) To validate tank model and TOPMODEL; and (3) To compare the performance of tank model and TOPMODEL. During calibration, both models exhibited equifinality, with many parameter sets equally likely to make acceptable hydrological simulations. In calibration, the tank model and TOPMODEL performances were close in terms of ‘Nash-Sutcliffe efficiency’ and ‘RMSE-observations standard deviation ratio’ indices. However, during the validation period, TOPMODEL performed much better than tank model. Owing to TOPMODEL’s better performance during model validation, it was judged to be better suited for making runoff forecasts in Atari River catchment. View Full-Text
Keywords: lumped model; distributed model; semi-distributed model; tank model; TOPMODEL; equifinality lumped model; distributed model; semi-distributed model; tank model; TOPMODEL; equifinality
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MDPI and ACS Style

Okiria, E.; Okazawa, H.; Noda, K.; Kobayashi, Y.; Suzuki, S.; Yamazaki, Y. A Comparative Evaluation of Lumped and Semi-Distributed Conceptual Hydrological Models: Does Model Complexity Enhance Hydrograph Prediction? Hydrology 2022, 9, 89. https://doi.org/10.3390/hydrology9050089

AMA Style

Okiria E, Okazawa H, Noda K, Kobayashi Y, Suzuki S, Yamazaki Y. A Comparative Evaluation of Lumped and Semi-Distributed Conceptual Hydrological Models: Does Model Complexity Enhance Hydrograph Prediction? Hydrology. 2022; 9(5):89. https://doi.org/10.3390/hydrology9050089

Chicago/Turabian Style

Okiria, Emmanuel, Hiromu Okazawa, Keigo Noda, Yukimitsu Kobayashi, Shinji Suzuki, and Yuri Yamazaki. 2022. "A Comparative Evaluation of Lumped and Semi-Distributed Conceptual Hydrological Models: Does Model Complexity Enhance Hydrograph Prediction?" Hydrology 9, no. 5: 89. https://doi.org/10.3390/hydrology9050089

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