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Watershed Processes under Changing Climate

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Environmental Sustainability and Applications".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 December 2020) | Viewed by 40137

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
School of Engineering, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON, Canada
Interests: watershed modeling; water quantity and quality; water scarcity and drought; climate change; ephemeral gullies
Blackland Research and Extension Center, Texas A&M University, Temple, TX 76502, USA
Interests: water resources engineering; optimization; uncertainty analysis; watershed modeling; flood control
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
University of Guelph, ON, Canada
Interests: integrated watershed modeling; climate change; urban hydrology and hydraulics
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The term “watershed process” generally refers to movements of landscape components into and through river systems and to the outlet of the watershed. The watershed processes are complex can be broadly classified into specific functions and characteristics, include: hydrology, soil erosion and sedimentation, nutrient cycling, contaminant fate and transport. In various watersheds at different spatial scales around the globe, these processes are being impacted and changed due to climate and land use changes and human activities. In recent decades, modeling and monitoring are being widely used to understand the watershed processes and their changes. There are several challenges that still exist in using modeling and monitoring. For example, in modeling, proper representation of watershed processes as they occur in the watershed is crucial so that the model can be used to provide the right answers for the right reasons. In monitoring, collection of statistically sound data under varying physiographic and climatic conditions may be costly and would require several years of monitoring efforts. This Special Issue aims to seek contributions that use modeling and monitoring and associated challenges to understand watershed processes and how they get affected due to climate and land use changes and human activities.

Prof. Dr. Prasad Daggupati
Dr. Haw Yen
Dr. Narayan Shrestha
Guest Editors

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Keywords

  • Watershed Processes
  • Hydrology
  • Soil Erosion
  • Sedimentation
  • Nutrients
  • Transport Mechanisms
  • Hydrological and Water quality modeling
  • Watershed modeling
  • Water Quality
  • Climate change
  • Land use change
  • Sustainability

Published Papers (11 papers)

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Research

23 pages, 4569 KiB  
Article
Rainfall and Human Impacts on Weathering Rates and Carbon-Nutrient Yields in the Watershed of a Small Mountainous River (Kaoping) in Southwestern Taiwan
by Jia-Jang Hung, Chun-Yi Yang, I-Jen Lai and Yuan-Hui Li
Sustainability 2020, 12(18), 7689; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12187689 - 17 Sep 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2055
Abstract
This study presents the influence of rainfall and human perturbation on physical and chemical weathering rates, and carbon and nutrient yields in the basin of the Kaoping, a small mountainous river (SMR) in southwestern Taiwan. The study was derived principally from the spatial [...] Read more.
This study presents the influence of rainfall and human perturbation on physical and chemical weathering rates, and carbon and nutrient yields in the basin of the Kaoping, a small mountainous river (SMR) in southwestern Taiwan. The study was derived principally from the spatial and temporal variability of aquatic geochemistry in the river during wet (1999–2000) and drought (2002) periods. The total, physical, and chemical weathering rates in the river basin ranged respectively from 4739, 3601, and 1138 g m−2 year−1 in the wet period to 1072, 656, and 416 g m−2 year−1 in the drought period, resulting mainly from a large difference in rainfall and river discharge between the two periods. The wet and drought periods were likely associated with La Niña and El Niño events, respectively. The weathering rates of the wet period were much higher than those reported from the world’s river basins, showing the unique characteristics of the SMR. The total carbon yield was derived mainly from dissolved inorganic carbon and was much higher in the wet period (140 g C m−2 year−1) than in the drought period (53.7 g C m−2 year−1). Taking silicate weathering (54.7 ± 10.2%) slightly over carbonate weathering (48.6 ± 9.5%) in determining dissolved ion loads, the Kaoping catchment may currently consume 0.155–0.298 MtC/year atmospheric CO2 without considering the CO2 released from chemical weathering. The nutrient yields were controlled mainly by human inputs but also enhanced by increased rainfall. Both regional and local climatic conditions and human impacts likely determined the weathering rates and total yields of carbon and nutrients. The SMRs may collectively contribute significantly to global fluxes of terrestrial sediments, geochemical matters, carbon, and nutrients to oceans. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Watershed Processes under Changing Climate)
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17 pages, 1863 KiB  
Article
Revised SEDD (RSEDD) Model for Sediment Delivery Processes at the Basin Scale
by Walter Chen and Kent Thomas
Sustainability 2020, 12(12), 4928; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12124928 - 17 Jun 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 3849
Abstract
Sediment transport to river channels in a basin is of great significance for a variety of reasons ranging from soil preservation to siltation prevention of reservoirs. Among the commonly used models of sediment transport, the SEdiment Delivery Distributed model (SEDD) uses an exponential [...] Read more.
Sediment transport to river channels in a basin is of great significance for a variety of reasons ranging from soil preservation to siltation prevention of reservoirs. Among the commonly used models of sediment transport, the SEdiment Delivery Distributed model (SEDD) uses an exponential function to model the likelihood of eroded soils reaching the rivers and denotes the probability as the Sediment Delivery Ratio of morphological unit i (SDRi). The use of probability to model SDRi in SEDD led us to examine the model and check for its statistical validity. As a result, we found that the SEDD model had several false assertions and needs to be revised to correct for the discrepancies with the statistical properties of the exponential distributions. The results of our study are presented here. We propose an alternative model, the Revised SEDD (RSEDD) model, to better estimate SDRi. We also show how to calibrate the model parameters and examine an example watershed to see if the travel time of sediments follows an exponential distribution. Finally, we reviewed studies citing the SEDD model to explore if they would be impacted by switching to the proposed RSEDD model. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Watershed Processes under Changing Climate)
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22 pages, 5602 KiB  
Article
High-Resolution Climate Projections for a Densely Populated Mediterranean Region
by Mohamed Salem Nashwan, Shamsuddin Shahid and Eun-Sung Chung
Sustainability 2020, 12(9), 3684; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12093684 - 2 May 2020
Cited by 21 | Viewed by 3196
Abstract
The present study projected future climate change for the densely populated Central North region of Egypt (CNE) for two representative concentration pathways (RCPs) and two futures (near future: 2020–2059, and far future: 2060–2099), estimated by a credible subset of five global climate models [...] Read more.
The present study projected future climate change for the densely populated Central North region of Egypt (CNE) for two representative concentration pathways (RCPs) and two futures (near future: 2020–2059, and far future: 2060–2099), estimated by a credible subset of five global climate models (GCMs). Different bias correction models have been applied to correct the bias in the five interpolated GCMs’ outputs onto a high-resolution horizontal grid. The 0.05° CNE datasets of maximum and minimum temperatures (Tmx, and Tmn, respectively) and the 0.1° African Rainfall Climatology (ARC2) datasets represented the historical climate. The evaluation of bias correction methodologies revealed the better performance of linear and variance scaling for correcting the rainfall and temperature GCMs’ outputs, respectively. They were used to transfer the correction factor to the projections. The five statistically bias-corrected climate projections presented the uncertainty range in the future change in the climate of CNE. The rainfall is expected to increase in the near future but drastically decrease in the far future. The Tmx and Tmn are projected to increase in both future periods reaching nearly a maximum of 5.50 and 8.50 °C for Tmx and Tmn, respectively. These findings highlighted the severe consequence of climate change on the socio-economic activities in the CNE aiming for better sustainable development. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Watershed Processes under Changing Climate)
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16 pages, 3576 KiB  
Article
Hydrological Response to Natural and Anthropogenic Factors in Southern Taiwan
by Hsin-Fu Yeh and Jyun Tsao
Sustainability 2020, 12(5), 1981; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12051981 - 5 Mar 2020
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 2478
Abstract
Global climate change and rapid industrial development have led to changes in streamflow worldwide, and determining the relative contributions from climate variability and human activity is important for water management. However, studies using attribution analysis to investigate the streamflow in Taiwan are scarce. [...] Read more.
Global climate change and rapid industrial development have led to changes in streamflow worldwide, and determining the relative contributions from climate variability and human activity is important for water management. However, studies using attribution analysis to investigate the streamflow in Taiwan are scarce. In this study, statistical methods are used to evaluate the changes in streamflow in order to assess the variation in the hydrological environment of Taiwan. Four river basins in Southern Taiwan were selected as the study area. The impact of climate variability and human activities on the changes in the streamflow from 1980 to 2017 was quantified via the hydrological sensitivity-based method and the decomposition method, which is based on the Budyko hypothesis. The results from these two methods were consistent and demonstrated that the increase in the streamflow of the four river basins was mainly attributable to climate variability. Streamflow change was more responsive to precipitation because of the relatively larger value of the sensitivity coefficients. This study provides a basic insight into the hydrological dynamics of river basins in Southern Taiwan and may serve as a reference for related research in the future. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Watershed Processes under Changing Climate)
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25 pages, 5115 KiB  
Article
Impacts of Climate Change and Different Crop Rotation Scenarios on Groundwater Nitrate Concentrations in a Sandy Aquifer
by Shoaib Saleem, Jana Levison, Beth Parker, Ralph Martin and Elisha Persaud
Sustainability 2020, 12(3), 1153; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12031153 - 5 Feb 2020
Cited by 13 | Viewed by 4234
Abstract
Nitrate in groundwater is a major concern in agricultural sub-watersheds. This study assessed the impacts of future climate and agricultural land use changes on groundwater nitrate concentrations in an agricultural sub-watershed (Norfolk site) in southern Ontario, Canada. A fully integrated hydrologic model (HydroGeoSphere) [...] Read more.
Nitrate in groundwater is a major concern in agricultural sub-watersheds. This study assessed the impacts of future climate and agricultural land use changes on groundwater nitrate concentrations in an agricultural sub-watershed (Norfolk site) in southern Ontario, Canada. A fully integrated hydrologic model (HydroGeoSphere) was used in combination with the root zone water quality model (RZWQM2) (shallow zone) to develop water flow and nitrate transport models. Three climate change models and three crop rotations (corn-soybean rotation, continuous corn, corn-soybean-winter wheat-red clover rotation) were used to evaluate the potential impact on groundwater quality (nine predictive scenarios). The selected climate change scenarios yielded less water availability in the future period than in the reference period (past conditions). The simulated nitrate nitrogen (Nitrate-N) concentrations were lower during the future period than the reference period. The continuous corn land use scenario produced higher Nitrate-N concentrations compared to the base case (corn-soybean rotation). However, the best management practices (BMP) scenario (corn-soybean-winter wheat-red clover rotation) produced significantly lower groundwater nitrate concentrations. BMPs, such as the one examined herein, should be adopted to reduce potential negative impacts of future climate change on groundwater quality, especially in vulnerable settings. These findings are important for water and land managers, to mitigate future impacts of nutrient transport on groundwater quality under a changing climate. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Watershed Processes under Changing Climate)
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21 pages, 4315 KiB  
Article
Analysis for Spatio-Temporal Variation Characteristics of Droughts in Different Climatic Regions of the Mongolian Plateau Based on SPEI
by Laiquan Jin, Jiquan Zhang, Ruoyu Wang, Minghua Zhang, Yuhai Bao, Enliang Guo and Yongfang Wang
Sustainability 2019, 11(20), 5767; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11205767 - 17 Oct 2019
Cited by 13 | Viewed by 2899
Abstract
Continuous climate warming in the last few decades has led to global climate anomalies, resulting in frequent drought events in arid/semiarid regions with fragile and sensitive ecological environment. The Mongolian Plateau (MP) is located at the mid-latitude arid/semiarid climate region, which is deemed [...] Read more.
Continuous climate warming in the last few decades has led to global climate anomalies, resulting in frequent drought events in arid/semiarid regions with fragile and sensitive ecological environment. The Mongolian Plateau (MP) is located at the mid-latitude arid/semiarid climate region, which is deemed as the most sensitive region in response to global climate change. In order to understand the spatiotemporal characteristics of droughts in Mongolian Plateau under changing climate, we divided the study area into three climatic regions via Köppen climate classification. Then, the seasonal and annual drought trends were analyzed by standardized precipitation evaporation index (SPEI), which is a function of monthly mean temperatures, highest temperatures, lowest temperatures and precipitations, collected from the 184 meteorological stations from 1980 to 2015. Mann–Kendall (MK) test was employed to detect if there is an abrupt change of annual drought, while the empirical orthogonal function method (EOF) was adopted to investigate the spatiotemporal characteristics of droughts across the Mongolian Plateau. Results from MK test illustrated that the SPEI-12 exhibited statistically significant downward trends (a < 0.05) for all three climatic regions of the Mongolian Plateau. EOF spatial analysis indicated that Region III experienced the most severe drought from 1980 to 2015. During the 35 years period, an abrupt change of drought was detected in 1999. Before year 1999, the climate was relatively humid. However, the entire region became more arid after year 1999, reflected by remarkably increased frequency and intensity of drought. SPEI-3 revealed the trend of drought at seasonal scale. We found that drought became more severe in spring, summer, and fall seasons for the entire MP. However, winter became more humid. Different climate regions exhibited quite different drought seasonality: Region I experienced a severe arid trend in summer and fall. For Region II and III, summer became more arid. All three regions became more humid in winter season, especially for Region I, with the Sen’s slope of 0.0241/a. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Watershed Processes under Changing Climate)
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36 pages, 5446 KiB  
Article
Evaluating Hydrological Models for Deriving Water Resources in Peninsular Spain
by Julio Pérez-Sánchez, Javier Senent-Aparicio, Francisco Segura-Méndez, David Pulido-Velazquez and Raghavan Srinivasan
Sustainability 2019, 11(10), 2872; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11102872 - 20 May 2019
Cited by 46 | Viewed by 4188
Abstract
Water availability is essential for the appropriate analysis of its sustainable management. We performed a comparative study of six hydrological balance models (Témez, ABCD, GR2M, AWBM, GUO-5p, and Thornthwaite-Mather) in several basins with different climatic conditions within Spain in the 1977–2010 period. We [...] Read more.
Water availability is essential for the appropriate analysis of its sustainable management. We performed a comparative study of six hydrological balance models (Témez, ABCD, GR2M, AWBM, GUO-5p, and Thornthwaite-Mather) in several basins with different climatic conditions within Spain in the 1977–2010 period. We applied six statistical indices to compare the results of the models: the Akaike information criterion (AIC), the Bayesian information criterion (BIC), Nash–Sutcliffe model efficiency coefficient (NSE), coefficient of determination (R2), percent bias (PBIAS), and the relative error between observed and simulated run-off volumes (REV). Furthermore, we applied the FITEVAL software to determine the uncertainty of the model. The results show that when the catchments are more humid the obtained results are better. The GR2M model gave the best fit in peninsular Spain in a UNEP aridity index framework above 1, and NSE values above 0.75 in a 95% confidence interval classify GR2M as very good for humid watersheds. The use of REV is also a key index in the assessment of the margin of error. Flow duration curves show good performance in the probabilities of exceedance lower than 80% in wet watersheds and deviations in low streamflows account for less than 5% of the total streamflow. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Watershed Processes under Changing Climate)
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16 pages, 1350 KiB  
Article
Nitrate Runoff Contributing from the Agriculturally Intensive San Joaquin River Watershed to Bay-Delta in California
by Ruoyu Wang, Huajin Chen, Yuzhou Luo, Patrick Moran, Michael Grieneisen and Minghua Zhang
Sustainability 2019, 11(10), 2845; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11102845 - 18 May 2019
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 4204
Abstract
Nitrogen loading from agricultural landscapes can trigger a cascade of detrimental effects on aquatic ecosystems. Recently, the spread of aquatic weed infestations (Eichhornia crassipes, Egeria densa, Ludwigia spp., and Onagraceae) in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta of northern California has [...] Read more.
Nitrogen loading from agricultural landscapes can trigger a cascade of detrimental effects on aquatic ecosystems. Recently, the spread of aquatic weed infestations (Eichhornia crassipes, Egeria densa, Ludwigia spp., and Onagraceae) in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta of northern California has raised concerns, and nitrogen loading from California’s intensive farming regions is considered as one of the major contributors. In this study, we employed the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) to simulate nitrogen exports from the agriculturally intensive San Joaquin River watershed to the Delta. The alternate tile drainage routine in SWAT was tested against monitoring data in the tile-drained area of the watershed to examine the suitability of the new routine for a tile nitrate simulation. We found that the physically based Hooghoudt and Kirkham tile drain routine improved model performance in representing tile nitrate runoff, which contributed to 40% of the nitrate loading to the San Joaquin River. Calibration results show that the simulated riverine nitrate loads matched the observed data fairly well. According to model simulation, the San Joaquin River plays a critical role in exporting nitrogen to the Delta by exporting 3135 tons of nitrate-nitrogen annually, which has a strong ecological implication in supporting the growth of aquatic weeds, which has impeded water flow, impairs commercial navigation and recreational activities, and degrades water quality in Bay-Delta waterways. Since nitrate loadings contributed by upstream runoff are an important nutrient to facilitate weed development, our study results should be seen as a prerequisite to evaluate the potential growth impact of aquatic weeds and scientific evidence for area-wide weed control decisions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Watershed Processes under Changing Climate)
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22 pages, 5748 KiB  
Article
Water Security Assessment of the Grand River Watershed in Southwestern Ontario, Canada
by Baljeet Kaur, Narayan Kumar Shrestha, Prasad Daggupati, Ramesh Pal Rudra, Pradeep Kumar Goel, Rituraj Shukla and Nabil Allataifeh
Sustainability 2019, 11(7), 1883; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11071883 - 29 Mar 2019
Cited by 25 | Viewed by 5869
Abstract
Water security is the capability of a community to have adequate access to good quality and a sufficient quantity of water as well as safeguard resources for the future generations. Understanding the spatial and temporal variabilities of water security can play a pivotal [...] Read more.
Water security is the capability of a community to have adequate access to good quality and a sufficient quantity of water as well as safeguard resources for the future generations. Understanding the spatial and temporal variabilities of water security can play a pivotal role in sustainable management of fresh water resources. In this study, a long-term water security analysis of the Grand River watershed (GRW), Ontario, Canada, was carried out using the soil and water assessment tool (SWAT). Analyses on blue and green water availability and water security were carried out by dividing the GRW into eight drainage zones. As such, both anthropogenic as well as environmental demand were considered. In particular, while calculating blue water scarcity, three different methods were used in determining the environmental flow requirement, namely, the presumptive standards method, the modified low stream-flow method, and the variable monthly flow method. Model results showed that the SWAT model could simulate streamflow dynamics of the GRW with ‘good’ to ‘very good’ accuracy with an average Nash–Sutcliffe Efficiency of 0.75, R2 value of 0.78, and percentage of bias (PBIAS) of 8.23%. Sen’s slope calculated using data from over 60 years confirmed that the blue water flow, green water flow, and storage had increasing trends. The presumptive standards method and the modified low stream-flow method, respectively, were found to be the most and least restrictive method in calculating environmental flow requirements. While both green (0.4–1.1) and blue (0.25–2.0) water scarcity values showed marked temporal and spatial variabilities, blue water scarcity was found to be the highest in urban areas on account of higher water usage and less blue water availability. Similarly, green water scarcity was found to be highest in zones with higher temperatures and intensive agricultural practices. We believe that knowledge of the green and blue water security situation would be helpful in sustainable water resources management of the GRW and help to identify hotspots that need immediate attention. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Watershed Processes under Changing Climate)
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18 pages, 3027 KiB  
Article
An Introduction to the Hyperspace of Hargreaves-Samani Reference Evapotranspiration
by Naim Haie, Rui M. Pereira and Haw Yen
Sustainability 2018, 10(11), 4277; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10114277 - 19 Nov 2018
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2746
Abstract
Climate change has been shown to directly influence evapotranspiration, which is one of the crucial watershed processes. The common approach to its calculation is via mathematical equations, such as 1985 Hargreaves-Samani (HS85). It computes reference evapotranspiration (ETo) through three climatic variables and one [...] Read more.
Climate change has been shown to directly influence evapotranspiration, which is one of the crucial watershed processes. The common approach to its calculation is via mathematical equations, such as 1985 Hargreaves-Samani (HS85). It computes reference evapotranspiration (ETo) through three climatic variables and one constant: RA (extra-terrestrial radiation), TC (mean temperature), TR (temperature range) and KR (empirical coefficient). To make HS85 more accurate, one of its authors proposed an equation for KR as a function of TR in 2000 (HS00). Both models are 4D and their internal behaviours are difficult to understand, hence, the data driven applications prevalent among experts and managers. In this study, we introduce an innovative research by trying to respond to two questions. What are the relationships between TC and TR? What are the internal patterns of HS hyperspace (4D domain) and the changes in ETo possibilities of the two models? In the proposed approach, thresholds for the four variables are utilized to cover majority of the agroclimatic situations in the world and the hyperspace is discretized with more than 50,000 calculation nodes. The ETo results show that under various climatic conditions, the behaviour of HS is nonlinear (more for HS00) leading to an increased uncertainty particularly for data driven applications. TC and TR show patterns useful for regions with less data. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Watershed Processes under Changing Climate)
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34 pages, 5908 KiB  
Article
Does the Complexity of Evapotranspiration and Hydrological Models Enhance Robustness?
by Dereje Birhanu, Hyeonjun Kim, Cheolhee Jang and Sanghyun Park
Sustainability 2018, 10(8), 2837; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10082837 - 9 Aug 2018
Cited by 16 | Viewed by 3569
Abstract
In this study, five hydrological models of increasing complexity and 12 Potential Evapotranspiration (PET) estimation methods of different data requirements were applied in order to assess their effect on model performance, optimized parameters, and robustness. The models were applied over a set of [...] Read more.
In this study, five hydrological models of increasing complexity and 12 Potential Evapotranspiration (PET) estimation methods of different data requirements were applied in order to assess their effect on model performance, optimized parameters, and robustness. The models were applied over a set of 10 catchments that are located in South Korea. The Shuffled Complex Evolution-University of Arizona (SCE-UA) algorithm was implemented to calibrate the hydrological models for each PET input while considering similar objective functions. The hydrological models’ performance was satisfactory for each PET input in the calibration and validation periods for all of the tested catchments. The five hydrological models’ performance were found to be insensitive to the 12 PET inputs because of the SCE-UA algorithm’s efficiency in optimizing model parameters. However, the five hydrological models’ parameters in charge of transforming the PET to actual evapotranspiration were sensitive and significantly affected by the PET complexity. The values of the three statistical indicators also agreed with the computed model evaluation index values. Similarly, identical behavioral similarities and Dimensionless Bias were observed in all of the tested catchments. For the five hydrological models, lack of robustness and higher Dimensionless Bias were seen for high and low flow as well as for the Hamon PET input. The results indicated that the complexity of the hydrological models’ structure and the PET estimation methods did not necessarily enhance model performance and robustness. The model performance and robustness were found to be mainly dependent on extreme hydrological conditions, including high and low flow, rather than complexity; the simplest hydrological model and PET estimation method could perform better if reliable hydro-meteorological datasets are applied. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Watershed Processes under Changing Climate)
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