Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2021-30
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2021-30

  21 Jan 2021

21 Jan 2021

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal HESS.

Teaching hydrological modelling: Illustrating model structure uncertainty with a ready-to-use teaching module

Wouter J. M. Knoben1 and Diana Spieler2 Wouter J. M. Knoben and Diana Spieler
  • 1University of Saskatchewan Coldwater Laboratory, Canmore, Alberta, Canada
  • 2Institute of Hydrology and Meteorology, Technische Universität Dresden, Dresden, Germany

Abstract. Estimating the impact of different sources of uncertainty along the modelling chain is an important skill graduates are expected to have. Broadly speaking, educators can cover uncertainty in hydrological modelling by differentiating uncertainty in data, model parameters and model structure. This provides students with insight on the impact of uncertainties on modelling results and thus on the usability of the acquired model simulations for decision making. A survey among teachers in the earth and environmental sciences showed that model structural uncertainty is the least represented uncertainty group in teaching. This paper introduces a teaching module that introduces students to the basics of model structure uncertainty through two ready-to-use exercises. The module is short and can easily be integrated into an existing hydrologic curriculum, limiting the time investment needed to teach this aspect of modelling uncertainty. A trial application at the Technische Universität Dresden (Germany) showed that the exercises can be completed in less than two afternoons and that the provided setup effectively transfers the intended insights about model structure uncertainty. The module requires either Matlab or Octave, and uses the open-source Modular Assessment of Rainfall-Runoff Models Toolbox (MARRMoT) and the open-source Catchment Attributes and Meteorology for Large-sample Studies (CAMELS) dataset.

Wouter J. M. Knoben and Diana Spieler

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on hess-2021-30', Anonymous Referee #1, 14 Feb 2021
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC1', Wouter Knoben, 13 Mar 2021
  • RC2: 'Comment on hess-2021-30', Anonymous Referee #2, 22 Apr 2021
    • AC3: 'Reply on RC2', Wouter Knoben, 24 Apr 2021

Wouter J. M. Knoben and Diana Spieler

Wouter J. M. Knoben and Diana Spieler

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Short summary
This paper introduces educational materials that can be used to teach students about an aspect of hydrologic modelling; model structure uncertainty. This refers to the fact that there are many different hydrologic models and that the differences between them impact their usefulness in different places. Hydrologic models are often used to support decision-making about water resources and to perform hydrologic science, and it is thus important for students to understand that model choice matters.