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Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 14, issue 7 | Copyright

Special issue: Advanced methods for flood estimation in a variable and changing...

Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 14, 1641-1661, 2014
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-14-1641-2014
© Author(s) 2014. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 02 Jul 2014

Research article | 02 Jul 2014

Streamflow simulation methods for ungauged and poorly gauged watersheds

A. Loukas and L. Vasiliades A. Loukas and L. Vasiliades
  • Department of Civil Engineering, University of Thessaly, Pedion Areos, 38334 Volos, Greece

Abstract. Rainfall–runoff modelling procedures for ungauged and poorly gauged watersheds are developed in this study. A well-established hydrological model, the University of British Columbia (UBC) watershed model, is selected and applied in five different river basins located in Canada, Cyprus, and Pakistan. Catchments from cold, temperate, continental, and semiarid climate zones are included to demonstrate the procedures developed. Two methodologies for streamflow modelling are proposed and analysed. The first method uses the UBC watershed model with a universal set of parameters for water allocation and flow routing, and precipitation gradients estimated from the available annual precipitation data as well as from regional information on the distribution of orographic precipitation. This method is proposed for watersheds without streamflow gauge data and limited meteorological station data. The second hybrid method proposes the coupling of UBC watershed model with artificial neural networks (ANNs) and is intended for use in poorly gauged watersheds which have limited streamflow measurements. The two proposed methods have been applied to five mountainous watersheds with largely varying climatic, physiographic, and hydrological characteristics. The evaluation of the applied methods is based on the combination of graphical results, statistical evaluation metrics, and normalized goodness-of-fit statistics. The results show that the first method satisfactorily simulates the observed hydrograph assuming that the basins are ungauged. When limited streamflow measurements are available, the coupling of ANNs with the regional, non-calibrated UBC flow model components is considered a successful alternative method to the conventional calibration of a hydrological model based on the evaluation criteria employed for streamflow modelling and flood frequency estimation.

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