SWAT Literature Database for Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles

Title:The effect of input data resolution and complexity on the uncertainty of hydrological predictions in a humid vegetated watershed 
Authors:Hoang, L., R. Mukundan, K.E.B. Moore, E.M. Owens and T.S. Steenhuis 
Journal:Hydrology and Earth System Sciences 
Volume (Issue):22(11) 
Article ID: 
URL (non-DOI journals): 
Broad Application Category:hydrologic only 
Primary Application Category:DEM data resolution effects 
Secondary Application Category:input data effects 
Watershed Description:37 km^2 Town Brook River, a tributary of the Cannonsville Reservoir drainage county in southeast New York, U.S. 
Calibration Summary: 
Validation Summary: 
General Comments: 
Abstract:Uncertainty in hydrological modeling is of significant concern due to its effects on prediction and subsequent application in watershed management. Similar to other distributed hydrological models, model uncertainty is an issue in applying the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT). Previous research has shown how SWAT predictions are affected by uncertainty in parameter estimation and input data resolution. Nevertheless, little information is available on how parameter uncertainty and output uncertainty are affected by input data of varying complexity. In this study, SWAT-Hillslope (SWAT-HS), a modified version of SWAT capable of predicting saturation-excess runoff, was applied to assess the effects of input data with varying degrees of complexity on parameter uncertainty and output uncertainty. Four digital elevation model (DEM) resolutions (1, 3, 10 and 30 m) were tested for their ability to predict streamflow and saturated areas. In a second analysis, three soil maps and three land use maps were used to build nine SWAT-HS setups from simple to complex (fewer to more soil types/land use classes), which were then compared to study the effect of input data complexity on model prediction/output uncertainty. The case study was the Town Brook watershed in the upper reaches of the West Branch Delaware River in the Catskill region, New York, USA. Results show that DEM resolution did not impact parameter uncertainty or affect the simulation of streamflow at the watershed outlet but significantly affected the spatial pattern of saturated areas, with 10m being the most appropriate grid size to use for our application. The comparison of nine model setups revealed that input data complexity did not affect parameter uncertainty. Model setups using intermediate soil/land use specifications were slightly better than the ones using simple information, while the most complex setup did not show any improvement from the intermediate ones. We conclude that improving input resolution and complexity may not necessarily improve model performance or reduce parameter and output uncertainty, but using multiple temporal and spatial observations can aid in finding the appropriate parameter sets and in reducing prediction/output uncertainty.