The added value of spatially distributed meteorological data for simulating hydrological processes in a small Mediterranean catchment

  • Ahlem GaraEmail author
  • Khouloud Gader
  • Slaheddine Khlifi
  • Marnik Vanclooster
  • Donia Jendoubi
  • Christophe Bouvier
Research Article - Hydrology


The purpose of this paper was to demonstrate the added value of the spatial distribution of rainfall and potential evapotranspiration (PE) in the prediction of the discharge for a small Mediterranean catchment located in the Medjerda basin in Tunisia, i.e. the Raghay. We compare therefore the performance of a conceptual hydrological model available in the ATHYS platform, using global and spatial distributed input data. The model was implemented in two different ways. The first implementation was in a spatially distributed mode, and the second one was in a non-distributed lumped mode by using spatially averaged data weighed with a Thiessen-interpolated factor. The performance of the model was analysed for the distributed mode and for the lumped mode with a cross-validation test and through several modelling evaluation criteria. Simultaneously, the impact of the spatial distribution of meteorological data was assessed for the two cases when estimating the model parameters, the flow and water amounts, and the flow duration curves. The cross-validation of the split-sample test shows a preference for the spatially distributed model based on accuracy criteria and graphical comparison. The distributed mode required, however, more simulation time. Finally, the results reported for the Raghay indicated that the added value of the spatial distribution of rainfall and PE is not constant for the whole series of data, depending on the spatial and temporal variability of climate data over the catchment that should be assessed prior to the modelling implementations.


Medjerda ATHYS Hydrological modelling Distributed PE and rainfall Accuracy criteria 



This research was realized at the Sustainable Management of Water and Soil Resources (UR17AGR03). The authors received funding from the project ‘Adaptation of water resources management in the Medjerda watershed to the challenges of climate change’ through the project 11—axis 2 of the Wallonia Brussels International Grant No. (Aso/CFo/Tunisie/15.1218/cf) and Tunisia Joint Commission 2016–2018. Moreover, part of this research study was accomplished in the Laboratory of HydroSciences in Montpellier with the funding of mobility program provided by the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research in Tunisia. Authors also would like to thank the Tunisian General Directorate of Water Resources (DGRE) for providing conventional data for the study area. Finally, the authors would like to express their gratitude for the anonymous reviewers of this paper.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Institute of Geophysics, Polish Academy of Sciences & Polish Academy of Sciences 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.U-R:Gestion Durable des Ressources en Eau et en Sol (GDRES), High School of Engineering of Medjez el Bab (ESIM)University of JendoubaJendoubaTunisia
  2. 2.National Agronomic Institute of Tunisia (INAT)University of CarthageTunisTunisia
  3. 3.Earth and Life InstituteUniversité Catholique de LouvainLouvain-la-NeuveBelgium
  4. 4.Centre for Development and Environment (CDE)University of BernBernSwitzerland
  5. 5.HydroSciences MontpellierInstitut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD)MontpellierFrance

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