Use of daily precipitation uncertainties in streamflow simulation and forecast

  • Yeonsang Hwang
  • Martyn P. Clark
  • Balaji Rajagopalan


Among other sources of uncertainties in hydrologic modeling, input uncertainty due to a sparse station network was tested. The authors tested impact of uncertainty in daily precipitation on streamflow forecasts. In order to test the impact, a distributed hydrologic model (PRMS, Precipitation Runoff Modeling System) was used in two hydrologically different basins (Animas basin at Durango, Colorado and Alapaha basin at Statenville, Georgia) to generate ensemble streamflows. The uncertainty in model inputs was characterized using ensembles of daily precipitation, which were designed to preserve spatial and temporal correlations in the precipitation observations. Generated ensemble flows in the two test basins clearly showed fundamental differences in the impact of input uncertainty. The flow ensemble showed wider range in Alapaha basin than the Animas basin. The wider range of streamflow ensembles in Alapaha basin was caused by both greater spatial variance in precipitation and shorter time lags between rainfall and runoff in this rainfall dominated basin. This ensemble streamflow generation framework was also applied to demonstrate example forecasts that could improve traditional ESP (Ensemble Streamflow Prediction) method.


Ensemble Forecast Hydrology Precipitation Interpolation Streamflow 



Partial support of this work by NOAA GAPP program (Award NA16GP2806) and the NOAA RISA Program (Award NA17RJ1229) is thankfully acknowledged. The authors also wish to thank George Leavesley and Lauren Hay, and Steve Markstrom at the USGS for providing valuable comments and data that greatly enhanced the quality of the entire analysis.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yeonsang Hwang
    • 1
  • Martyn P. Clark
    • 2
  • Balaji Rajagopalan
    • 3
  1. 1.College of EngineeringArkansas State UniversityState UniversityUSA
  2. 2.Research Applications Laboratory National Center for Atmospheric ResearchBoulderUSA
  3. 3.Department of Civil, Environmental and Architectural EngineeringUniversity of ColoradoBoulderUSA

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