Articles | Volume 18, issue 6
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 18, 2393–2413, 2014
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 18, 2393–2413, 2014

Research article 26 Jun 2014

Research article | 26 Jun 2014

Uncertainty analysis in model parameters regionalization: a case study involving the SWAT model in Mediterranean catchments (Southern France)

H. Sellami1, I. La Jeunesse2,3, S. Benabdallah4, N. Baghdadi5, and M. Vanclooster1 H. Sellami et al.
  • 1Earth and Life Institute, Université catholique de Louvain, Croix du Sud 2, Box 2, 1348 Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium
  • 2UMR 7324 CITERES, Université de Tours, 33 allée Ferdinand de Lesseps BP 60449 – 37204 Tours cedex 3, France
  • 3LETG-Angers LEESA, UMR 6554 CNRS, Université d'Angers, Faculté des Sciences, 2 Bd Lavoisier, 49045 Angers Cedex 1, France
  • 4Centre de Recherches et des Technologies des Eaux, Technopole Borj Cedria, BP 273, Soliman 8020, Tunisia
  • 5IRSTEA, UMR TETIS, 500 rue François Breton, 34093 Montpellier CEDEX 5, France

Abstract. In this study a method for propagating the hydrological model uncertainty in discharge predictions of ungauged Mediterranean catchments using a model parameter regionalization approach is presented. The method is developed and tested for the Thau catchment located in Southern France using the SWAT hydrological model. Regionalization of model parameters, based on physical similarity measured between gauged and ungauged catchment attributes, is a popular methodology for discharge prediction in ungauged basins, but it is often confronted with an arbitrary criterion for selecting the "behavioral" model parameter sets (Mps) at the gauged catchment. A more objective method is provided in this paper where the transferrable Mps are selected based on the similarity between the donor and the receptor catchments. In addition, the method allows propagating the modeling uncertainty while transferring the Mps to the ungauged catchments. Results indicate that physically similar catchments located within the same geographic and climatic region may exhibit similar hydrological behavior and can also be affected by similar model prediction uncertainty. Furthermore, the results suggest that model prediction uncertainty at the ungauged catchment increases as the dissimilarity between the donor and the receptor catchments increases. The methodology presented in this paper can be replicated and used in regionalization of any hydrological model parameters for estimating streamflow at ungauged catchment.