Distributed Hydrologic Modeling in the Suburban Landscape: Assessing Parameter Transferability from Gauged Reference Catchments

Authors

  • Tamara Mittman,

    1. Respectively, Environmental Engineer (Mittman), Office of Wastewater Management, US Environmental Protection Agency, 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20004
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  • Lawrence E. Band,

    1. Voit Gilmore Distinguished Professor of Geography, Director, Institute for the Environment (Band), University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
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  • Taehee Hwang,

    1. Post-Doctorate Scientist (Hwang, Lipscomb Smith), Institute for the Environment, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
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  • Monica Lipscomb Smith

    1. Post-Doctorate Scientist (Hwang, Lipscomb Smith), Institute for the Environment, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
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  • Paper No. JAWRA-10-0071-P of the Journal of the American Water Resources Association (JAWRA). Discussions are open until six months from print publication.

(E-Mail/Mittman: mittman.tamara@epa.gov)

Abstract

Mittman, Tamara, Lawrence E. Band, Taehee Hwang, and Monica Lipscomb Smith, 2012. Distributed Hydrologic Modeling in the Suburban Landscape: Assessing Parameter Transferability from Gauged Reference Catchments. Journal of the American Water Resources Association (JAWRA) 48(3): 546-557. DOI: 10.1111/j.1752-1688.2011.00636.x

Abstract:  Distributed, process-based models of catchment hydrologic response are potentially useful tools for the assessment of Low Impact Development (LID) techniques in urbanized catchments. Their application is often limited, however, by the lack of continuous streamflow records to calibrate poorly constrained parameters. This article examines the transferability of soil and groundwater parameters from a forested reference catchment to a nearby suburban catchment. We use the Regional Hydro-Ecologic Simulation System (RHESSys) to develop hydrologic models of one gauged forested and one ungauged suburban catchment within the Baltimore Ecosystem Study (BES) study area. We use a parameter uncertainty framework to calibrate soil and groundwater parameters for the forested catchment, and discrete measurements of streamflow from the suburban catchment to assess parameter transferability. Results indicate that the transfer of soil and groundwater parameters from forested reference to nearby suburban catchments is viable, with performance measures for the suburban catchment often exceeding those for the forested catchment. We propose that the simplification of hydrologic processes in urbanized catchments may account for the increase in model performance in the suburban catchment.

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