Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2021-501
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2021-501

  12 Oct 2021

12 Oct 2021

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

The Effects of Spatial and Temporal Resolution of Gridded Meteorological Forcing on Watershed Hydrological Responses

Pin Shuai1, Xingyuan Chen1, Utkarsh Mital2, Ethan T. Coon3, and Dipankar Dwivedi2 Pin Shuai et al.
  • 1Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, WA 99352
  • 2Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, CA 94720
  • 3Climate Change Science Institute & Environmental Sciences Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, TN, 37830

Abstract. Meteorological forcing plays a critical role in accurately simulating the watershed hydrological cycle. With the advancement of high-performance computing and the development of integrated watershed models, simulating the watershed hydrological cycle at high temporal (hourly to daily) and spatial resolution (10s of meters) has become efficient and computationally affordable. These hyperresolution watershed models require high resolution of meteorological forcing as model input to ensure the fidelity and accuracy of simulated responses. In this study, we utilized the Advanced Terrestrial Simulator (ATS), an integrated watershed model, to simulate surface and subsurface flow and land surface processes using unstructured meshes at the Coal Creek Watershed near Crested Butte (Colorado). We compared simulated watershed hydrologic responses including streamflow, and distributed variables such as evapotranspiration, snow water equivalent (SWE), and groundwater table drivenby three publicly available, gridded meteorological forcing (GMF) – Daily Surface Weather and Climatological Summaries (Daymet), Parameter-elevation Regressions on Independent Slopes Model (PRISM), and North American Land Data Assimilation System (NLDAS). By comparing various spatial resolutions (ranging from 400 m to 4 km) of PRISM, the simulated streamflow only becomes marginally worse when spatial resolution of meteorological forcing is coarsened to 4 km (or 30 % of the watershed area). However, the 4 km resolution has much worse performance than finer resolution in spatially distributedvariables such as SWE. By comparing models forced by different temporal resolutions of NLDAS (hourly to daily), GMF in sub-daily resolution preserves the dynamic watershed responses (e.g., diurnal fluctuation of streamflow) that are absent in results forced by daily resolution. Conversely, the simulated streamflow shows better performance using daily resolution compared to that using sub-daily resolution. Our findings suggest that the choice of GMF and its spatiotemporal resolution depends on the quantity of interest and its spatial and temporal scale, which may have important implications on model calibration and watershed management decisions.

Pin Shuai et al.

Status: open (until 07 Dec 2021)

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Pin Shuai et al.

Pin Shuai et al.

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Short summary
Using an integrated watershed model, we compared simulated watershed hydrologic variables driven by three publicly available gridded meteorological forcings (GMFs) at various spatial and temporal resolutions. Our results demonstrated that spatially distributed variables are sensitive to the spatial resolution of the GMF. The temporal resolution of the GMF impacts the dynamics of watershed responses. The choice of GMF depends on the quantity of interest and its spatial and temporal scale.