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Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 4, issue 2
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 4, 203–213, 2000
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-4-203-2000
© Author(s) 2000. This work is licensed under
the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 License.

Special issue: Process Representation in hydrological Models

Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 4, 203–213, 2000
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-4-203-2000
© Author(s) 2000. This work is licensed under
the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 License.

  30 Jun 2000

30 Jun 2000

Uniqueness of place and process representations in hydrological modelling

K. J. Beven K. J. Beven
  • Environment Lancaster, Institute of Environmental and Natural Sciences, Lancaster University, Lancaster LA1 4YQ, UK
  • e-mail for corresponding author: k.beven@lancaster.ac.uk

Abstract. This paper addresses the problem of uniqueness of catchment areas in relation to model representations of flow processes. The uniqueness of field measurements as a limitation on model representations is discussed. The treatment of uniqueness as a residual from a modelled relationship may conceal information about the uniqueness of catchments, while the treatment of uniqueness as a set of parameter values within a particular model structure is problematic due to the equifinality of model structures and parameter sets. The analysis suggests that a fully reductionist approach to describe the uniqueness of individual catchment areas by the aggregation of descriptions of small scale behaviour will be impossible given current measurement technologies. A suggested strategy for the representation of uniqueness of place as a fuzzy mapping of the landscape into a model space is suggested. This will lead to a quantification of the uncertainty in predictions of any particular location in a way that allows a conditioning of the mapping on the basis of the available data. This process can incorporate a hypothesis testing approach to model evaluation but the problem of multiple behavioural models may provide an ultimate limitation on the realism of process representations: not on the principle of realism but on the possibility of unambiguous process representations.

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