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Keywords:

  • large-scale hydrodynamic model;
  • Amazon;
  • flow routing;
  • flood inundation

Abstract

A key aspect of large river basins partially neglected in large-scale hydrological models is river hydrodynamics. Large-scale hydrologic models normally simulate river hydrodynamics using simplified models that do not represent aspects such as backwater effects and flood inundation, key factors for some of the largest rivers of the world, such as the Amazon. In a previous paper, we have described a large-scale hydrodynamic approach resultant from an improvement of the MGB-IPH hydrological model. It uses full Saint Venant equations, a simple storage model for flood inundation and GIS-based algorithms to extract model parameters from digital elevation models. In the present paper, we evaluate this model in the Solimões River basin. Discharge results were validated using 18 stream gauges showing that the model is accurate. It represents the large delay and attenuation of flood waves in the Solimões basin, while simplified models, represented here by Muskingum Cunge, provide hydrographs are wrongly noisy and in advance. Validation against 35 stream gauges shows that the model is able to simulate observed water levels with accuracy, representing their amplitude of variation and timing. The model performs better in large rivers, and errors concentrate in small rivers possibly due to uncertainty in river geometry. The validation of flood extent results using remote sensing estimates also shows that the model accuracy is comparable to other flood inundation modelling studies. Results show that (i) river-floodplain water exchange and storage, and (ii) backwater effects play an important role for the Amazon River basin hydrodynamics. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.