Using SWAT to Model Streamflow in Two River Basins With Ground and Satellite Precipitation Data

Source: 
Journal of the American Water Resource Association
Volume: 
45-1
Year: 
2009
Abstract: 

Both ground rain gauge and remotely sensed precipitation (Next Generation Weather Radar - NEXRAD Stage III) data have been used to support spatially distributed hydrological modeling. This study is unique in that it utilizes and compares the performance of National Weather Service (NWS) rain gauge, NEXRADStage III, and Tropical Rainfall Measurement Mission (TRMM) 3B42 (Version 6) data for the hydrological modeling of the Middle Nueces River Watershed in South Texas and Middle Rio Grande Watershed in South Texas and northern Mexico. The hydrologic model chosen for this study is the Soil and Water Assessment Tool(SWAT), which is a comprehensive, physical-based tool that models watershed hydrology and water quality within stream reaches. Minor adjustments to selected model parameters were applied to make parameter values more realistic based on results from previous studies. In both watersheds, NEXRAD Stage III data yields results with low mass balance error between simulated and actual streamflow (±13%) and high monthly Nash-Sutcliffe efficiency coefficients (NS > 0.60) for both calibration (July 1, 2003 to December 31, 2006) and validation(2007) periods. In the Middle Rio Grande Watershed NEXRAD Stage III data also yield robust daily results(time averaged over a three-day period) with NS values of (0.60-0.88). TRMM 3B42 data generate simulations for the Middle Rio Grande Watershed of variable quality (MBE = +13 to )16%; NS = 0.38-0.94; RMSE = 0.07-0.65), but greatly overestimates streamflow during the calibration period in the Middle Nueces Watershed.During the calibration period use of NWS rain gauge data does not generate acceptable simulations in both watersheds. Significantly, our study is the first to successfully demonstrate the utility of satellite-estimated precipitation (TRMM 3B42) in supporting hydrologic modeling with SWAT; thereby, potentially extending therealm (between 50 degree North and 50 degrees South) where remotely sensed precipitation data can support hydrologic modeling outside of regions that have modern, ground-based radar networks (i.e., much of the third world).

Author(s): 

Kenneth J. Tobin and Marvin E. Bennett

Category: