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Modeller subjectivity and calibration impacts on hydrological model applications: An event-based comparison for a road-adjacent catchment in south-east Norway
KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Sustainable development, Environmental science and Engineering, Land and Water Resources Engineering. Stockholm University, Sweden .
KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Sustainable development, Environmental science and Engineering, Land and Water Resources Engineering.
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2015 (English)In: Science of the Total Environment, ISSN 0048-9697, E-ISSN 1879-1026, Vol. 502, 315-329 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Identifying a 'best' performing hydrologic model in a practical sense is difficult due to the potential influences of modeller subjectivity on, for example, calibration procedure and parameter selection. This is especially true for model applications at the event scale where the prevailing catchment conditions can have a strong impact on apparent model performance and suitability. In this study, two lumped models (CoupModel and HBV) and two physically-based distributed models (LISEM and MIKE SHE) were applied to a small catchment upstream of a road in south-eastern Norway. All models were calibrated to a single event representing typical winter conditions in the region and then applied to various other winter events to investigate the potential impact of calibration period and methodology on model performance. Peak flow and event-based hydrographs were simulated differently by all models leading to differences in apparent model performance under this application. In this case study, the lumped models appeared to be better suited for hydrological events that differed from the calibration event (i.e., events when runoff was generated from rain on non-frozen soils rather than from rain and snowmelt on frozen soil) while the more physical-based approaches appeared better suited during snowmelt and frozen soil conditions more consistent with the event-specific calibration. This was due to the combination of variations in subsurface conditions over the eight events considered, the subsequent ability of the models to represent the impact of the conditions (particularly when subsurface conditions varied greatly from the calibration event), and the different approaches adopted to calibrate the models. These results indicate that hydrologic models may not only need to be selected on a case-by-case basis but also have their performance evaluated on an application-by-application basis since how a model is applied can be equally important as inherent model structure.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. Vol. 502, 315-329 p.
Keyword [en]
Extreme weather events, Road infrastructure, Road drainage, Hydrological model, Runoff
National Category
Environmental Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-140641DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2014.09.030ISI: 000345730800035PubMedID: 25262294ScopusID: 2-s2.0-84907705405OAI: diva2:692146
Swedish Research Council, 20114390

QC 20150116

Available from: 2014-01-30 Created: 2014-01-30 Last updated: 2015-01-16Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Road structures under climate and land use change: Bridging the gap between science and application
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Road structures under climate and land use change: Bridging the gap between science and application
2014 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Future changes in climate and land use are likely to affect catchment hydrological responses and consequently influence the amount of runoff reaching roads. Blockages and damage to under-dimensioned infrastructure can be extremely costly for the regions affected. This study aims to produce scientifically well-founded suggestions on adaptation of road drainage systems to climate changes resulting in more frequent floods. This thesis demonstrates the need to integrate aspects of climate change and land use impacts into the planning and practice of road construction and maintenance in Sweden. Tools such as hydrological models are needed to assess impacts on discharge dynamics. Identifying a ‘best’ practically performing hydrological model is often difficult due to the potential influence of modeller subjectivity on calibration procedure, parameter selection, etc. Hydrological models may need to be selected on a case-by-case basis and have their performance evaluated on an application-by-application basis.

The work presented here began by examining current practice for road drainage systems in Sweden. Various hydrological models were then used to calculate the runoff from a catchment adjacent to a road and estimate changes in peak discharge and total runoff resulting from simulated land use measures. Overall, the results indicate that the specific effect of land use measures on catchment discharge depend on their spatial distribution and on the size and timing of storm events. Scenarios comprising a changing climate up to 2050 or to 2100 and forest clear-cutting were used to determine whether the current design of road drainage construction is sufficient for future conditions. Based on the findings, the approach developed can be used for similar studies, e.g. by the Swedish Transport Administration in dimensioning future road drainage structures to provide safe and robust infrastructure.

Furthermore, a statistical method was developed for estimating and mapping flood hazard probability along roads using road and catchment characteristics. The method allows flood hazards to be estimated and provides insight into the relative roles of landscape characteristics in determining road-related flood hazards. Overall, this method provides an efficient way to estimate flooding hazards and to inform the planning of future roadways and the maintenance of existing roadways.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH Royal Institute of Technology, 2014. xii, 31 p.
TRITA-LWR. PHD, ISSN 1650-8602 ; 2014:01
Adaptation, extreme rainfall events, runoff, land use, climate change, flood hazard
National Category
Social Sciences
Research subject
SRA - Transport; Järnvägsgruppen - Infrastruktur
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-140631 (URN)978-91-7595-000-6 (ISBN)
Public defence
2014-02-14, Sal V1, Teknikringen 76, 1 tr., KTH, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)

QC 20140130

Available from: 2014-01-30 Created: 2014-01-29 Last updated: 2015-01-16Bibliographically approved

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