Articles | Volume 3, issue 1
Special issue:
31 Mar 1999
31 Mar 1999

UP Modelling System for large scale hydrology: deriving large-scale physically-based parameters for the Arkansas-Red River basin

J. Ewen, W. T. Sloan, C. G. Kilsby, and P. E. O'Connell

Abstract. The UP modelling system has been applied to the 570,000 km2 Arkansas-Red River Basin (ARRB) as part of the UK NERC Terrestrial initiative in Global Environmental Research (TIGER). The model can be run as a stand-alone basin hydrology model or be linked to existing climate and weather forecasting models. It runs on a grid comprising 1923 UP elements, each 17km by 17km in area, and each containing five water storage compartments: one each for the snowpack, vegetation canopy, surface water, root zone and groundwater. All the main transfers and processes of the terrestrial phase of the hydrological cycle are represented, including river network routing of the runoff from the UP elements.
The parameters of the ARRB model are physically-based, being derived either from fine-scale, sub-grid, data on the topography and physical properties of the soils, aquifers and vegetation of the basin, or from the results of fine-scale physically-based simulations. With the approach, the parameters account for the effects of sub-grid variations in moisture status and spatial distribution and are sensitive to changes in the fine-scale property data. This sensitivity is either absent or less directly represented in existing large-scale hydrology models, yet it plays a central role in studies of the impact of changes in climate and land-use.
The ARRB model, as described here and in Kilsby et al. (1999), is a first attempt at large-scale physically-based hydrological modelling of the type outlined in the "blueprint" for the UP system (Ewen, 1997), and gives a clear, positive, indication of the nature and quality of what is currently practical with the approach.

Special issue