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https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-2020-43
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-2020-43
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 25 Feb 2020

Submitted as: research article | 25 Feb 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal NHESS.

Simulation of extreme rainfall and streamflow events in small Mediterranean watersheds with a one-way coupled atmospheric-hydrologic modelling system

Corrado Camera1, Adriana Bruggeman2, George Zittis3, Ioannis Sofokleous2, and Joël Arnault4 Corrado Camera et al.
  • 1Dipartimento di Scienze della Terra 'A. Desio', Università degli Studi di Milano, Milano, 20133, Italy
  • 2Energy Environment and Water Research Center,The Cyprus Institute, Nicosia, 2121, Cyprus
  • 3Climate and Atmosphere Research Center, The Cyprus Institute, Nicosia, 2121, Cyprus
  • 4Institute of Meteorology and Climate Research, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Garmisch‐Partenkirchen, 82467, Germany

Abstract. Few studies evaluate the hydrologic performance of coupled atmospheric-hydrologic models when forced with observed rainfall and even fewer when forced with modelled precipitation. This information is crucial for the study of floods and in general for the use of the models for water management purposes. This study's objectives were: (i) to calibrate the one-way coupled WRF-hydro model for simulating extreme events in Cyprus with observed precipitation; and (ii) to evaluate the model performance when forced with WRF-downscaled (1 × 1 km2) re-analysis precipitation data (ERA-Interim). Streamflow was modelled during extreme rainfall events that occurred in January 1989 and November 1994 over 22 mountain watersheds. In six watersheds, Nash-Sutcliffe Efficiencies (NSE) larger than 0.5 were obtained for both events. The WRF-modelled rainfall showed an average NSE of 0.83 for January 1989 and 0.49 for November 1994. Nevertheless, hydrologic simulations of the two events with the WRF-modelled rainfall and the calibrated WRF-Hydro returned negative streamflow NSE for 13 watersheds in January 1989 and for 18 watersheds in November 1994. These results indicate that small differences in amounts or shifts in time or space of modelled rainfall, in comparison with observed precipitation, can strongly modify the hydrologic response of small watersheds to extreme events. Thus, the calibration of WRF-Hydro for small watersheds depends on the availability of observed rainfall with high temporal and spatial resolution. However, the use of modelled precipitation input data will remain important for studying the effect of future extremes on flooding and water resources.

Corrado Camera et al.

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Short summary
Can numerical models simulate well intense rainfall events and consequent streamflow in a mountainous area with small watersheds? We applied state-of-the-art atmospheric-hydrologic models and we found that rainfall events can be simulated with low errors. However, these low errors (shifts in time and space of the rainfall peak) lead to large discrepancies between the observed and simulated streamflow. The models can be applied together for climate change impact studies but not flood forecasting.
Can numerical models simulate well intense rainfall events and consequent streamflow in a...
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