SWAT Literature Database for Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles

Title:Can We Calibrate a Daily Time-Step Hydrological Model Using Monthly Time-Step Discharge Data? 
Authors:Adla, S., S. Tripathi and M. Disse 
Volume:11 (9) 
Article ID:1750 
URL (non-DOI journals): 
Broad Application Category:hydrologic only 
Primary Application Category:calibration, sensitivity, and/or uncertainty analysis 
Secondary Application Category:input effects 
Watershed Description:5,495 km^2 Punpun River, which starts in the Palamau District (Jharkhand) and enters the Ganga River about 25 km downstream of the City of Patna in northeast India. 
Calibration Summary: 
Validation Summary: 
General Comments: 
Abstract:Hydrological models are generally calibrated at longer time-steps (monthly, seasonal, or annual) than their computational time-step (daily), because of better calibration performance, lower computational requirements, and the lack of reliable temporally-fine observed discharge data (particularly in developing countries). The consequences of having different calibration and computation time-steps on model performance have not been extensively investigated. This study uses the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) model to explore the correctness of calibrating a hydrological model at the monthly time-step even if the problem statement is suited to monthly modeling. Multiple SWAT models were set up for an agricultural watershed in the Indo-Gangetic basin. The models were calibrated with observed discharge data of different time-steps (daily and monthly) and were validated on data with the same or different time-steps. Intra- and inter-decadal comparisons were conducted to reinforce the results. The models calibrated on monthly data marginally outperformed the models calibrated on daily data when validated on monthly data, in terms of P-factor, R-factor, the coefficient of determination (R2), and Nash–Sutcliffe Efficiency (NSE). However, the monthly-calibrated models performed poorly as compared to daily-calibrated models when validated on daily discharge data. Moreover, the daily simulations from the monthly-calibrated models were unrealistic. Analysis of the calibrated parameters revealed that the daily- and monthly-calibrated models differed significantly in terms of parameters governing channel and groundwater processes. Thus, though the monthly-calibrated model captures the patterns in monthly discharge data fairly well, it fails to characterize daily rainfall-runoff processes. The results challenge the existing practice of using different calibration and computation time-steps in hydrological modeling, and suggest that the two time-steps should be the same, irrespective of the time-step required for modeling.