Water Resources Management

, Volume 30, Issue 15, pp 5671–5685 | Cite as

Hydrologic Modelling Calibration for Operational Flood Forecasting

  • Juliana MendesEmail author
  • Rodrigo Maia


Runoff prediction in flood forecasting depends on the use of hydrological simulation models and on the input of accurate precipitation forecasts. Reliability of predictions thus obtained hinges on proper calibration of the model. Moreover, when the model is intended to be used systematically in operational forecasting of streamflows, the calibration process must take into account the variation of the model parameters over time, namely in response to changing weather and hydrological conditions in the basin. The goal of the study was to build a process to adjust, on a daily basis, the simulation model parameters to the current hydrological conditions of the river basin, in order for the model to be run operationally for prediction of the streamflow for the next 10-days period, and, thereby, to forecast the occurrence of flood events. Towards this end, hydrological simulations using the HEC-HMS model were performed, using a 3 h period time step. The present communication focuses on the hydrological model calibration and verification processes and on the evaluation of forecasts’ accuracy. The procedure was applied to a part of the largest (full) Portuguese river basin, the Mondego river basin, corresponding to the Aguieira dam section watershed, which comprises an area of 3070 km2. Four wet periods, associated with the occurrence of flooding, were selected for the calibration and verification of the model, by adjustment of the model parameters. The results of the study aim to define the optimal calibration parameters values to model the observed streamflow for various hydro-meteorological states, thus enabling adequate prediction of flow in flooding situations and proper application of the model in operational flood forecasting.


Hydrologic modelling Calibration and verification Accuracy Runoff Flood forecasting 



The first author is indebted to the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (PhD grant reference SFRH/BD/65905/2009, supported by “Programa Operacional Potencial Humano do Fundo Social Europeu” (POPH/FSE) funding). Moreover, the authors also thank EDP-Produção for providing the data used in this study, and Pedro Pinto de Sousa for linguistic revision.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Water Resources and Environment Division, Civil Engineering DepartmentFaculty of Engineering of University of PortoPortoPortugal

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