High Resolution Discharge Simulations Over Europe and the Baltic Sea Catchment


Regional coupled system models require a high-resolution discharge component to couple their atmosphere/land components to the ocean component and to adequately resolve smaller catchments and the day-to-day variability of discharge. As the currently coupled discharge models usually do not fulfill this requirement, we improved a well-established discharge model, the Hydrological Discharge (HD) model, to be globally applicable at 5 Min. resolution. As the first coupled high-resolution discharge simulations are planned over Europe and the Baltic Sea catchment, we focus on the respective regions in the present study. As no river specific parameter adjustments were conducted and since the HD model parameters depend on globally available gridded characteristics, the model is, in principle, applicable for climate change studies and over ungauged catchments. For the validation of the 5 Min. HD (HD5) model, we force it with prescribed fields of surface and subsurface runoff. As no large-scale observations of these variables exist, they need to be calculated by a land surface scheme or hydrology model using observed or re-analyzed meteorological data. In order to pay regard to uncertainties introduced by these calculations, three different methods and datasets were used to derive the required fields of surface and subsurface runoff for the forcing of the HD5 model. However, the evaluation of the model performance itself is hampered by biases in these fields as they impose an upper limit on the accuracy of simulated discharge. 10-years simulations (2000-2009) show that for many European rivers, where daily discharge observations were available for comparison, the HD5 model captures the main discharge characteristics reasonably well. Deficiencies of the simulated discharge could often be traced back to deficits in the various forcing datasets. As direct anthropogenic impact on the discharge, such as by regulation or dams, is not regarded in the HD model, those effects can generally not be simulated. Thus, discharges for many heavily regulated rivers in Scandinavia or for the rivers Volga and Don are not well represented by the model. The comparison of the three sets of simulated discharges indicates that the HD5 model is suitable to evaluate the terrestrial hydrological cycle of climate models or land surface models, especially with regard to the separation of throughfall (rain or snow melt) into surface and subsurface runoff.
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