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Keywords:

  • runoff;
  • surface water;
  • watershed;
  • catchment classification;
  • water balance model;
  • streamflow regime;
  • prediction in ungauged basins

Moore, R.D. (Dan), J.W. Trubilowicz, and J.M. Buttle, 2011. Prediction of Streamflow Regime and Annual Runoff for Ungauged Basins Using a Distributed Monthly Water Balance Model. Journal of the American Water Resources Association (JAWRA) 48(1): 32-42. DOI: 10.1111/j.1752-1688.2011.00595.x

Abstract:  Prediction of streamflow in ungauged basins is a global challenge, but is particularly an issue in physiographically complex regions like British Columbia (BC), Canada. The objective of this study was to assess the accuracy of a simple water balance model that can be run using existing spatial datasets. The model was developed by modifying an existing monthly water balance model to account for interception loss from forest canopy, glacier melt, and evaporation from lakes. The model was run using monthly climate normals from the ClimateBC application, which have a horizontal resolution of 400 m. Each ClimateBC grid cell was classified as forest, open land, glacier or water surface based on provincial scale digital maps of biogeoclimatic zones, glaciers, and water. The output was monthly mean runoff from each grid cell. These values were integrated within the catchment boundaries for streams gauged by the Water Survey of Canada. Annual runoff was predicted with modest accuracy: after updating the predicted runoff by interpolating errors from neighboring gauged streams, the mean absolute error was 25.4% of the gauged value, and 52% of the streams had errors less than 20%. However, the model appears to be quite robust in distinguishing between pluvial, hybrid, and melt-dominated hydroclimatic regimes, and therefore has promise as a tool for catchment classification.