Reliability of a conceptual hydrological model in a semi-arid Andean catchment facing water-use changes
- 1UM2, UMR HydroSciences Montpellier, Montpellier, France
- 2CNRS, UMR HydroSciences Montpellier, Montpellier, France
- 3INRA, US 1116 AGROCLIM, Avignon, France
- 4Instituto de Investigaciones Agropecuarias, La Serena, Chile
- 5Centro de Estudios Avanzados en Zonas Áridas, La Serena, Chile
Abstract. This paper explores the reliability of low-flow simulations by conceptual models in a semi-arid, Andean catchment (30° S) facing climate variability and water-use changes. Depending on water availability, a significant part of surface water resources are diverted to meet irrigation requirements. In return, these water withdrawals are likely to influence the hydrological behavior of the catchment. The value of model-based analyses thus relies on our ability to adequately represent the complex interactions between climate variability, human-induced flow perturbations and crop water use. In this study, a parsimonious hydrological model (GR4J) including a snow routine was combined with a model of irrigation water-use (IWU) to provide a new, 6-parameter model of the catchment behavior (called GR4J/IWU). The original, 4-parameter GR4J model and the 6-parameter GR6J model were also used as benchmarks to evaluate the usefulness of explicitly accounting for water abstractions. Calibration and validation of these three models were performed successively over two different 5-year periods representing contrasted water-use and climate conditions. Overall, the GR4J/IWU model provided better simulations than the GR4J and GR6J models over both periods. Further research is required to quantify the predictive uncertainty associated with model structures, parameters and inputs.