SWAT Literature Database for Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles

Title:Comparison of temperature-index snowmelt models for use within an operational water quality model 
Authors:Watson, B.M. and G. Putz 
Journal:Journal of Environmental Quality 
Article ID: 
URL (non-DOI journals): 
Broad Application Category:hydrologic only 
Primary Application Category:snowmelt and/or glacier melt processes 
Secondary Application Category:model comparison 
Watershed Description:3.0 km^2 Mosquito Creek, 5.2 km^2 1A Creek, 9.5 km^2 Thistle Creek, 15.0 km^2 Willow Creek and 133 km^2 Groat Creek in central Alberta, Canada 
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General Comments:This article is part of the JEQ special SWAT section. 
Abstract:The accurate prediction of snowmelt runoff is a critical component of integrated hydrological and water quality models in regions where snowfall constitutes a significant portion of the annual precipitation. In cold regions, the accumulation of a snowpack and the subsequent spring snowmelt generally constitutes a major proportion of the annual water yield. Furthermore, the snowmelt runoff transports significant quantities of sediment and nutrients to receiving streams and strongly influences downstream water quality. Temperature-index models are commonly used in operational hydrological and water quality models to predict snowmelt runoff. Due to their simplicity, computational efficiency, low data requirements, and ability to consistently achieve good results, numerous temperature-index models of varying complexity have been developed in the past few decades. The objective of this study was to determine how temperature-index models of varying complexity would affect the performance of the water quality model SWATBF (a modified version of SWAT that was developed for watersheds dominated by boreal forest) for predicting runoff. Temperature-index models used by several operational hydrological models were incorporated into SWATBF. Model performance was tested on five watersheds on the Canadian Boreal Plain whose hydrologic response is dominated by snowmelt runoff. The results of this study indicate that simpler temperature-index models can perform as well as more complex temperature-index models for predicting runoff from the study watersheds. The outcome of this study has important implications because the incorporation of simpler temperature-index snowmelt models into hydrological and water quality models can lead to a reduction in the number of parameters that need to be optimized without sacrificing predictive accuracy.