Calibration of watershed-scale models suffer from a number of conceptual and technical issues, which we believe require a more careful consideration by the scientific community.
Building an agro-hydrological model of the world to study water resources, soil erosion, and crop yield.
The agro-hydrologic SWAT model is coupled with the water allocation optimization model MODSIM.
In this project we study the impact of landuse and climate change on the water resources of Salman Dam Basin located in the Fars province, Iran.
Landuse and climate change effects on soil erosion and water quality in the Kagera Transboundary Watershed in the Upper Catchment of Lake Victoria Basin.
A tool kit is being developed to perform multiple tasks for climate change purposes.
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Water resources of the Black Sea Basin at high spatial and temporal resolution
The pressure on water resources, deteriorating water quality, and uncertainties associated with the climate change create an environment of conflict in large and complex river system. The Black Sea Basin (BSB), in particular, suffers from ecological unsustainability and inadequate resource management leading to severe environmental, social, and economical problems. To better tackle the future challenges, we used the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) to model the hydrology of the BSB coupling water quantity, water quality, and crop yield components. The hydrological model of the BSB was calibrated and validated considering sensitivity and uncertainty analysis. River discharges, nitrate loads, and crop yields were used to calibrate the model. Employing grid technology improved calibration computation time by more than an order of magnitude. We calculated components of water resources such as river discharge, infiltration, aquifer recharge, soil moisture, and actual and potential evapotranspiration. Furthermore, available water resources were calculated at subbasin spatial and monthly temporal levels. Within this framework, a comprehensive database of the BSB was created to fill the existing gaps in water resources data in the region. In this paper, we discuss the challenges of building a large-scale model in fine spatial and temporal detail. This study provides the basis for further research on the impacts of climate and land use change on water resources in the BSB.
Rouholahnejad, E.; Abbaspour, K. C.; Srinivasan, R.; Bacu, V.; Lehmann, A. (2014) Water resources of the Black Sea Basin at high spatial and temporal resolution, Water Resources Research, 50(7), 5866-5885, doi:10.1002/2013WR014132, Institutional Repository
Filling the gap between Earth observation and policy making in the Black Sea catchment with enviroGRIDS
The environmental status of the Black Sea is obviously closely related to its catchment. Being a closed sea, this large water body drains an area of more than 2 million km2, encompassing 23 countries inhabited by more than 180 million people. The main environmental issues faced by the Black Sea catchment are the same as elsewhere in Europe. These problems are exacerbated by global changes with drastic changes predicted in temperature and precipitation by the end of the century, as well as land use and demographic changes. These environmental problems are taking place in a complex geopolitical situation. In this particular context, data sharing is essential to inform managers and policy-makers about the state of the environment, which will ultimately influence the state of the Black Sea itself. The enviroGRIDS project was set up in order to promote international data sharing initiatives such as the Global Earth Observation System of Systems and the European INSPIRE directive. The enviroGRIDS project was successful in reaching the following objectives: (a) performing a gap analysis on existing Earth observations systems in the region; (b) developing regional capacities at institutional, infrastructure and human resource levels; (c) creating regional scenarios to set the scene for plausible climatic, demographic and land use futures; (d) building the first hydrological model for the entire Black Sea catchment; (e) developing the Black Sea Catchment Observation System based on interoperability standards and Grid computing technologies; (f) showcasing data sharing in several case studies, addressing important environmental issues while building a network of people with improved capacity on data sharing principles. These relative successes should not, however, hide the difficulties in making the necessary Earth observation data available to scientists, decision makers and the public, as the mind-sets at all levels are changing slowly. Controlling the access to data is still perceived by many as a necessity to guarantee the power of the state on society and as a way to preserve its security. The need to develop national spatial data infrastructures (SDI) is very important to convince all ministries and data owner that publically funded data should be made publically available. The progress in the implementation of SDI seems more limited by political agendas than by technology. It is clear, however, that implementation of the INSPIRE directive in Europe is a prerequisite for the success of many other environmental policies (e.g. Water Framework Directive; Marine Strategy Framework Directive; Biodiversity strategy 2020).
Lehmann, A.; Giuliani, G.; Mancosu, E.; Abbaspour, K. C.; Sözen, S.; Gorgan, D.; Beel, A.; Ray, N. (2015) Filling the gap between Earth observation and policy making in the Black Sea catchment with enviroGRIDS, Environmental Science and Policy, 46, 1-12, doi:10.1016/j.envsci.2014.02.005, Institutional Repository
Modeling impacts of climate change on freshwater availability in Africa
This study analyzes the impact of climate change on freshwater availability in Africa at the subbasin level for the period of 2020-2040. Future climate projections from five global circulation models (GCMs) under the four IPCC emission scenarios were fed into an existing SWAT hydrological model to project the impact on different components of water resources across the African continent. The GCMs have been downscaled based on observed data of Climate Research Unit to represent local climate conditions at 0.5° grid spatial resolution. The results show that for Africa as a whole, the mean total quantity of water resources is likely to increase. For individual subbasins and countries, variations are substantial. Although uncertainties are high in the simulated results, we found that in many regions/countries, most of the climate scenarios projected the same direction of changes in water resources, suggesting a relatively high confidence in the projections. The assessment of the number of dry days and the frequency of their occurrences suggests an increase in the drought events and their duration in the future. Overall, the dry regions have higher uncertainties than the wet regions in the projected impacts on water resources. This poses additional challenge to the agriculture in dry regions where water shortage is already severe while irrigation is expected to become more important to stabilize and increase food production.
Faramarzi, M.; Abbaspour, K. C.; Ashraf Vaghefi, S.; Farzaneh, M. R.; Zehnder, A. J. B.; Srinivasan, R.; Yang, H. (2013) Modeling impacts of climate change on freshwater availability in Africa, Journal of Hydrology, 480, 85-101, doi:10.1016/j.jhydrol.2012.12.016, Institutional Repository
A parallelization framework for calibration of hydrological models
Large-scale hydrologic models are being used more and more in watershed management and decision making. Sometimes rapid modeling and analysis is needed to deal with emergency environmental disasters. However, time is often a major impediment in the calibration and application of these models. To overcome this, most projects are run with fewer simulations, resulting in less-than-optimum solutions. In recent years, running time-consuming projects on gridded networks or clouds in Linux systems has become more and more prevalent. But this technology, aside from being tedious to use, has not yet become fully available for common usage in research, teaching, and small to medium-size applications. In this paper we explain a methodology where a parallel processing scheme is constructed to work in the Windows platform. We have parallelized the calibration of the SWAT (Soil and Water Assessment Tool) hydrological model, where one could submit many simultaneous jobs taking advantage of the capabilities of modern PC and laptops. This offers a powerful alternative to the use of grid or cloud computing. Parallel processing is implemented in SWAT-CUP (SWAT Calibration and Uncertainty Procedures) using the optimization program SUFI2 (Sequential Uncertainty FItting ver. 2). We tested the program with large, medium, and small-size hydrologic models on several computer systems, including PCs, laptops, and servers with up to 24 CPUs. The performance was judged by calculating speedup, efficiency, and CPU usage. In each case, the parallelized version performed much faster than the non-parallelized version, resulting in substantial time saving in model calibration.
Modeling blue and green water availability in Africa
Despite the general awareness that in Africa many people and large areas are suffering from insufficient water supply, spatially and temporally detailed information on freshwater availability and water scarcity is so far rather limited. By applying a semidistributed hydrological model SWAT (Soil and Water Assessment Tool), the freshwater components blue water flow (i.e., water yield plus deep aquifer recharge), green water flow (i.e., actual evapotranspiration), and green water storage (i.e., soil water) were estimated at a subbasin level with monthly resolution for the whole of Africa. Using the program SUFI-2 (Sequential Uncertainty Fitting Algorithm), the model was calibrated and validated at 207 discharge stations, and prediction uncertainties were quantified. The presented model and its results could be used in various advanced studies on climate change, water and food security, and virtual water trade, among others. The model results are generally good albeit with large prediction uncertainties in some cases. These uncertainties, however, disclose the actual knowledge about the modeled processes. The effect of considering these model-based uncertainties in advanced studies is shown for the computation of water scarcity indicators.
Modelling hydrology and water quality in the pre-alpine/alpine Thur watershed using SWAT
Summary In a national effort, since 1972, the Swiss Government started the "National Long-term Monitoring of Swiss Rivers" (NADUF) program aimed at evaluating the chemical and physical states of major rivers leaving Swiss political boundaries. The established monitoring network of 19 sampling stations included locations on all major rivers of Switzerland. This study complements the monitoring program and aims to model one of the program's catchments – Thur River basin (area 1700 km2), which is located in the north-east of Switzerland and is a direct tributary to the Rhine. The program SWAT (Soil and Water Assessment Tool) was used to simulate all related processes affecting water quantity, sediment, and nutrient loads in the catchment. The main objectives were to test the performance of SWAT and the feasibility of using this model as a simulator of flow and transport processes at a watershed scale. Model calibration and uncertainty analysis were performed with SUFI-2 (Sequential Uncertainty FItting Ver. 2), which was interfaced with SWAT using the generic iSWAT program. Two measures were used to assess the goodness of calibration: (1) the percentage of data bracketed by the 95% prediction uncertainty calculated at the 2.5 and 97.5 percentiles of the cumulative distribution of the simulated variables, and (2) the d-factor, which is the ratio of the average distance between the above percentiles and the standard deviation of the corresponding measured variable. These statistics showed excellent results for discharge and nitrate and quite good results for sediment and total phosphorous. We concluded that: in watersheds similar to Thur – with good data quality and availability and relatively small model uncertainty – it is feasible to use SWAT as a flow and transport simulator. This is a precursor for watershed management studies.
Abbaspour, K. C.; Yang, J.; Maximov, I.; Siber, R.; Bogner, K.; Mieleitner, J.; Zobrist, J.; Srinivasan, R. (2007) Modelling hydrology and water quality in the pre-alpine/alpine Thur watershed using SWAT, Journal of Hydrology, 333(2–4), 413-430, doi:10.1016/j.jhydrol.2006.09.014, Institutional Repository
Estimating unsaturated soil hydraulic parameters using ant colony optimization
Although models are now routinely used for addressing environmental problems, both in research and management applications, the problem of obtaining the required parameters remains a major challenge. An attractive procedure for obtaining model parameters in recent years has been through inverse modeling. This approach involves obtaining easily measurable variables (model output), and using this information to estimate a set of unknown model parameters. Inverse procedures usually require optimization of an objective function. In this study we emulate the behavior of a colony of ants to achieve this optimization. The method uses the fact that ants are capable of finding the shortest path from a food source to their nest by depositing a trail of pheromone during their walk. Results obtained with the ant colony parameter optimization method are very promising; in eight different applications we were able to estimate the 'true' parameters to within a few percent. One such study is reported in this paper plus an application to estimating hydraulic parameters in a lysimeter experiment. Despite the encouraging results obtained thus far, further improvements could still be made in the parameterization of the ant colony optimization for application to estimation of unsaturated flow and transport parameters.
A continental-scale hydrology and water quality model for Europe: calibration and uncertainty of a high-resolution large-scale SWAT model
A combination of driving forces are increasing pressure on local, national, and regional water supplies needed for irrigation, energy production, industrial uses, domestic purposes, and the environment. In many parts of Europe groundwater quantity, and in particular quality, have come under sever degradation and water levels have decreased resulting in negative environmental impacts. Rapid improvements in the economy of the eastern European block of countries and uncertainties with regard to freshwater availability create challenges for water managers. At the same time, climate change adds a new level of uncertainty with regard to freshwater supplies. In this research we build and calibrate an integrated hydrological model of Europe using the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) program. Different components of water resources are simulated and crop yield and water quality are considered at the Hydrological Response Unit (HRU) level. The water resources are quantified at subbasin level with monthly time intervals. Leaching of nitrate into groundwater is also simulated at a finer spatial level (HRU). The use of large-scale, high-resolution water resources models enables consistent and comprehensive examination of integrated system behavior through physically-based, data-driven simulation. In this article we discuss issues with data availability, calibration of large-scale distributed models, and outline procedures for model calibration and uncertainty analysis. The calibrated model and results provide information support to the European Water Framework Directive and lay the basis for further assessment of the impact of climate change on water availability and quality. The approach and methods developed are general and can be applied to any large region around the world.
Abbaspour, K. C.; Rouholahnejad, E.; Vaghefi, S.; Srinivasan, R.; Yang, H.; Kløve, B. (2015) A continental-scale hydrology and water quality model for Europe: calibration and uncertainty of a high-resolution large-scale SWAT model, Journal of Hydrology, 524, 733-752, doi:10.1016/j.jhydrol.2015.03.027, Institutional Repository