Preprint Article Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

Climate Normalized Spatial Patterns of Evapotranspiration Enhance the Evaluation of Hydrological Models

Version 1 : Received: 11 November 2021 / Approved: 12 November 2021 / Online: 12 November 2021 (14:49:18 CET)

How to cite: Koch, J.; Demirel, M.C.; Stisen, S. Climate Normalized Spatial Patterns of Evapotranspiration Enhance the Evaluation of Hydrological Models. Preprints 2021, 2021110225 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202111.0225.v1). Koch, J.; Demirel, M.C.; Stisen, S. Climate Normalized Spatial Patterns of Evapotranspiration Enhance the Evaluation of Hydrological Models. Preprints 2021, 2021110225 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202111.0225.v1).

Abstract

Spatial pattern-oriented evaluations of distributed hydrological models have contributed towards an improved realism of hydrological simulations. This advancement was supported by the broad range of readily available satellite-based datasets of key hydrological variables, such as evapotranspiration (ET). At larger scale, spatial patterns of ET are often characterized by an underlying climate gradient, and with this study, we argue that gradient dominated patterns may hamper the potential of spatial pattern-oriented evaluation frameworks. We hypothesize that the climate control of spatial patterns of ET overshadows the effect model parameters have on the simulated variability. To solve this limitation, we propose a climate normalization strategy. This is demonstrated for the Senegal River basin as modeling case study, where the dominant north-south precipitation gradient is the main driver of the observed hydrological variability. Two multi-objective calibration experiments investigate the effect of climate normalization. Both calibrations utilize observed discharge (Q) in combination with remote sensing ET data, where one is based on the original ET pattern and the other utilizes the normalized ET pattern. We identify parameter sets that balance the tradeoffs between the two independent observations and find that the calibration using the normalized ET pattern does not compromise the spatial patern performance of the original pattern. However, vice versa, this is not necessarily the case, since the calibration using the original ET pattern showed a poorer performance for the normalized pattern. Both calibrations reached comparable performance of Q. With this study, we identified a general shortcoming of spatial pattern-oriented model evaluations using ET in basins dominated by a climate gradient, but we argue that this also applies to other variables such as, soil moisture or land surface temperature.

Keywords

evapotranspiration; spatial patterns; model evaluation; remote sensing; hydrological modeling; climate normalization

Subject

EARTH SCIENCES, Environmental Sciences

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