Rainfall characteristics define the value of streamflow observations for distributed watershed model identification

Kathryn van Werkhoven, Thorsten Wagener, Patrick Reed, Yong Tang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

52 Citations (Scopus)


We present evidence that the characteristics of rainfall events strongly control the value of streamflow observations for the identification of distributed watershed models. A series of synthetic rainfall events with different spatio-temporal extents and dynamics are used to investigate spatially-distributed global parameter sensitivities for a typical watershed model. The model's parametric sensitivities vary greatly with rainfall distribution characteristics, location of the model cell in relation to the watershed's gauged outlet, and, to a lesser degree, the initial model states. This study demonstrates that the information content of streamflow is a dynamic property and that distributed model identification methodologies should consider the impact of spatio-temporal rainfall dynamics.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberL11403
Pages (from-to)-
Number of pages6
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jun 2008

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