Comparative study of a physically based distributed hydrological model versus a conceptual hydrological model for assessment of climate change response in the Upper Nile, Baro-Akobo basin: a case study of the Sore watershed, Ethiopia

Asfaw Kebede, Bernd Diekkrüger, Semu A. Moges
  • International Journal of River Basin Management, May 2014, Taylor & Francis
  • DOI: 10.1080/15715124.2014.917315

Distributed versus conceptual hydrological model

What is it about?

This paper presents a comparative study of two distinctively different hydrological models for simulating future discharge response in climate change scenarios. The mostly agricultural Sore watershed, Ethiopia, was used as a case study. Outputs from the climate models REMO (Regional Model) and CGCM3.1 (Canadian Global Climate Model) were used as inputs for hydrological models after statistical downscaling. Data from the REMO A1B and B1 and CGCM3.1 A1B scenarios were selected to represent future conditions. The models used in this study, the physically based distributed hydrological model WaSiM (Water Flow and Balance Simulation Model)-ETH and the conceptual model HBV-Light, were applied to simulate the flow conditions for a reference period (1990–1997) and a future period (2011–2050). The results confirm that the uncertainty caused by using different climate model inputs is larger than the uncertainty caused by using different hydrological models. In both hydrological models, the future peak discharge decreases in the future climate change scenarios regardless of the climate model and emission scenario considered. Whereas peak discharge shifted from August/September for the reference period to June in the future with CGCM3.1, discharge generally shifted to month earlier for both climate models. For low-flow conditions, the HBV-Light model always computed slightly higher values than the WaSiM-ETH model.

Why is it important?

This study demonstrates that both the hydrological and climate models were consistent concerning the overall direction of change, regardless of magnitude. In Climate Change study it is good to compare hydrological models beside climate models before concluding there is change.

Read Publication

The following have contributed to this page: Asfaw Kebede Kassa