Journal article

Evaluation of streamflow simulation by SWAT model for two small watersheds under snowmelt and rainfall

LÉVESQUE É, ANCTIL F, VAN GRIENSVEN A, BEAUCHAMP N ...see all

Hydrological Sciences Journal, vol. 53, issue 5 (2008) pp. 961-976

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Abstract

The degradation of the river water quality in Canadian rural catchments
is of concern. In these catchments, the Soil Water Assessment Tool
(SWAT) model can help better understand the problems related to diffuse
pollution. The numerous documented applications of SWAT have been
dominated by areas uniquely driven by rainfall. Given that Canadian
hydroclimatic conditions differ due to the presence of a seasonal
snowpack of long duration, evaluation of the hydrological performance
needs to be performed prior to attempting any water quality simulations.
The objective of the present work is to evaluate the hydrological
behaviour of the SWAT model under snowmelt and rainfall for two small
watersheds located in southeastern Canada. Different calibration
schemes are evaluated including seasonal effects. One-year calibration
gave satisfactory daily performances measured with Nash-Sutcliffe
efficiency (NS) ranging between 61 and 83% and deviations of volume
(Dv) between -10 and 1%, while in validation, NS was 40-73%
and Dv between -20 and -3%. The SWAT model has difficulties
in reconciling both seasons. When winter and summer data are used
separately to calibrate the model, the model performance is still
much better for the winter season than for the summer one. However,
the latter is considerably improved when only summer observations
are provided for calibration. Conversely, calibration based strictly
on the winter observations provides no real advantage over that based
on all available data. A two-step composite calibration, which optimizes
the SWAT snow accumulation and melt-related parameters on the winter
data, after all other model parameters have been optimized on the
summer data, provides a compromise. Copyright © 2008 IAHS Press.

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Authors

  • ÉTIENNE LÉVESQUE

  • FRANÇOIS ANCTIL

  • ANN VAN GRIENSVEN

  • NICOLAS BEAUCHAMP

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