This report documents a three-part continental-scale calibration procedure and a new streamflow routing algorithm using the U.S. Geological Survey National Hydrologic Model (NHM) infrastructure along with an application of the Precipitation-Runoff Modeling System (PRMS). The traditional approach to hydrologic model calibration and evaluation, which relies on comparing observed and simulated streamflow, is not sufficient for accurately representing the non-streamflow parts of the water budget. If intermediate process variables computed by the hydrologic model are not examined, the variables could be characterized by parameter values that do not replicate those hydrological processes present in the physical system. In answer to this potential problem, alternative hydrologic process variables from the model (in addition to streamflow) are included in a calibration procedure applied to the conterminous United States (CONUS) domain.
The three-part calibration procedure presented in this report considers volume (calibration by hydrologic response unit [byHRU]), timing (calibration by headwater watershed [byHW]), and measured streamflow [byHWobs]). The first part, byHRU, is considered a water-balance volume calibration that uses five alternative (non-streamflow) hydrologic quantities (runoff, actual evapotranspiration, recharge, soil moisture, and snow-covered area) as calibration targets for each hydrologic response unit (HRU). These alternative data products were derived, with error bounds, from multiple sources for each of the 109,951 HRUs in the NHM on time scales varying from annual to daily. The second part of the calibration, byHW, is considered a streamflow timing calibration that uses statistically based streamflow simulations developed using ordinary kriging for 7,265 headwater watersheds that had drainage areas of less than 3,000 square kilometers (1,158 square miles) across the CONUS. Two streamflow routing algorithms were tested in this byHW calibration: (1) continuity without attenuation of the flood pulse and (2) a new formulation of the Muskingum routing method, which was added to the PRMS as part of this study. The third part of the calibration, byHWobs, refines the model parameters using available measured streamflow using 1,417 streamgage locations. A multiple-objective, stepwise, automated calibration procedure was used to identify the optimal set of parameters for each calibration procedure.
Using a variety of alternative datasets for calibration of the water budget provides users of the NHM-PRMS with improved initial parameters and helps alleviate the equifinality problem (getting the right answer for the wrong reason). Through a community effort, these alternative data products, with error bounds, can be used to improve and expand our understanding of hydrologic-process representation in models. The broader modeling community can use these data products, with error bounds, to calibrate and evaluate hydrologic models using more than streamflow.
|Title||Parameter estimation at the conterminous United States scale and streamflow routing enhancements for the National Hydrologic Model infrastructure application of the Precipitation-Runoff Modeling System (NHM-PRMS)|
|Authors||Lauren E. Hay, Jacob H. LaFontaine, Ashley E. Van Beusekom, Parker A. Norton, William H. Farmer, R. Steve Regan, Steven L. Markstrom, Jesse E. Dickinson|
|Publication Subtype||USGS Numbered Series|
|Series Title||Techniques and Methods|
|Record Source||USGS Publications Warehouse|
|USGS Organization||South Atlantic Water Science Center|