Standard Article

Uncertainties in Rainfall–Runoff Modeling


  1. Patrick Willems

Published Online: 15 JUL 2005

DOI: 10.1002/047147844X.me336

Water Encyclopedia

Water Encyclopedia

How to Cite

Willems, P. 2005. Uncertainties in Rainfall–Runoff Modeling. Water Encyclopedia. 297–304.

Author Information

  1. Hydraulics Laboratory, Leuven, Belgium

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 JUL 2005


Errors and uncertainties in the prediction of rainfall–runoff are often substantial. Consideration of these errors is therefore crucially important. When water decision-making is based on the rainfall–runoff prediction, for instance, by means of rainfall–runoff, uncertainties affect model outcomes and, consequently, the decisions. Hence, good modeling practice provides not only the results of model predictions but also the accuracy of these results. It supplies decision makers with important additional information on the uncertainty in the data and information that they use as a basis for their decisions. After quantification of the runoff prediction errors, water policies can be set up for which the efficiency can be guaranteed up to specified acceptable risk levels. Combined with the uncertainty analysis, a sensitivity analysis provides the modeler and decision maker with information about the importance of various types of model limitations and sources of uncertainty.


  • rainfall–runoff;
  • runoff prediction errors;
  • uncertainty analysis;
  • model limitations;
  • rainfall measurement errors;
  • spatial variability of rainfall;
  • parameter uncertainties;
  • model residuals