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Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 18, issue 2
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 18, 539–557, 2014
© Author(s) 2014. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 18, 539–557, 2014
© Author(s) 2014. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 12 Feb 2014

Research article | 12 Feb 2014

Using the SWAT model to improve process descriptions and define hydrologic partitioning in South Korea

C. L. Shope1,*, G. R. Maharjan2, J. Tenhunen2, B. Seo2, K. Kim2, J. Riley2, S. Arnhold3, T. Koellner4, Y. S. Ok5,6, S. Peiffer1, B. Kim7, J.-H. Park8, and B. Huwe3 C. L. Shope et al.
  • 1University of Bayreuth, Dept. of Hydrology, Universitatstrasse 30, 95440 Bayreuth, Germany
  • 2University of Bayreuth, Dept. of Plant Ecology, Universitatstrasse 30, 95440 Bayreuth, Germany
  • 3University of Bayreuth, Dept. of Soil Physics, Universitatstrasse 30, 95440 Bayreuth, Germany
  • 4University of Bayreuth, Professorship of Ecosystem Services, Universitatstrasse 30, 95440 Bayreuth, Germany
  • 5Kangwon National University, Dept. of Biological Environment, 192-1 Hyoja-Dong, Gwangwon-do, Chuncheon 200-701, Republic of Korea
  • 6University of Alberta, Dept. of Renewable Resources, Alberta, Canada
  • 7Kangwon National University, Dept. of Env. Science, 192-1 Hyoja-Dong, Gwangwon-do, Chuncheon, 200-701, Republic of Korea
  • 8EWHA Womans University, Dept. of Environmental Science and Engineering, Seoul 120-750, Republic of Korea
  • *now at: US Geological Survey, 2329 Orton Circle, Salt Lake City, UT, USA

Abstract. Watershed-scale modeling can be a valuable tool to aid in quantification of water quality and yield; however, several challenges remain. In many watersheds, it is difficult to adequately quantify hydrologic partitioning. Data scarcity is prevalent, accuracy of spatially distributed meteorology is difficult to quantify, forest encroachment and land use issues are common, and surface water and groundwater abstractions substantially modify watershed-based processes. Our objective is to assess the capability of the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) model to capture event-based and long-term monsoonal rainfall–runoff processes in complex mountainous terrain. To accomplish this, we developed a unique quality-control, gap-filling algorithm for interpolation of high-frequency meteorological data. We used a novel multi-location, multi-optimization calibration technique to improve estimations of catchment-wide hydrologic partitioning. The interdisciplinary model was calibrated to a unique combination of statistical, hydrologic, and plant growth metrics. Our results indicate scale-dependent sensitivity of hydrologic partitioning and substantial influence of engineered features. The addition of hydrologic and plant growth objective functions identified the importance of culverts in catchment-wide flow distribution. While this study shows the challenges of applying the SWAT model to complex terrain and extreme environments; by incorporating anthropogenic features into modeling scenarios, we can enhance our understanding of the hydroecological impact.

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