CLASSIC: a semi-distributed rainfall-runoff modelling system
Abstract. This paper describes the development of a semi-distributed conceptual rainfall–runoff model, originally formulated to simulate impacts of climate and land-use change on flood frequency. The model has component modules for soil moisture balance, drainage response and channel routing and is grid-based to allow direct incorporation of GIS- and Digital Terrain Model (DTM)-derived data sets into the initialisation of parameter values. Catchment runoff is derived from the aggregation of components of flow from the drainage module within each grid square and from total routed flow from all grid squares. Calibration is performed sequentially for the three modules using different objective functions for each stage. A key principle of the modelling system is the concept of nested calibration, which ensures that all flows simulated for points within a large catchment are spatially consistent. The modelling system is robust and has been applied successfully at different spatial scales to three large catchments in the UK, including comparison of observed and modelled flood frequency and flow duration curves, simulation of flows for uncalibrated catchments and identification of components of flow within a modelled hydrograph. The role of such a model in integrated catchment studies is outlined.