Precipitation uncertainty estimation and rainfall-runoff model calibration using iterative ensemble smoothers


Zoccatelli D., Wright D.B., White J.T., Fienen M.N., Yu G.


Advances in Water Resources, vol. 186, art. no. 104658, 2024


The introduction of iterative ensemble smoothers (IES) for parameter calibration opens avenues for expanding parameter space in surface water hydrologic modeling. Here, we have introduced independent parameters into a model calibration experiment to estimate errors in rainfall forcing data. This approach has the potential to estimate rainfall errors using other hydrological observations and to improve model calibration. Using high-resolution rain gauge data, we estimated “real” rainfall errors across the Turkey River watershed at storm and daily scales. Tests on synthetic and real-world scenarios successfully estimated errors correlated with observed values – even at daily scales. However, a bias remained from model parameter compensation, and identifying errors was challenging for low precipitation and snowfall. Despite synthetic results showing good error correlation, the biases in parameter identification masked potential improvements in hydrological calibration. This study highlights the potential of IES to provide additional information on rainfall errors, even only using streamflow observations.



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