Skip to main content


Log in

Does a successful comprehensive evaluation increase confidence in a hydrological model intended for climate impact assessment?

  • Published:
Climatic Change Aims and scope Submit manuscript


The objective of the study is to verify a hypothesis that a hydrological model, which successfully passed a comprehensive evaluation test (CE-test), is more suitable for climate impact study than that which failed the test. In our study, the CE-test is a specially designed model evaluation procedure, including a set of enhanced tests of model performance and robustness. The hypothesis verification is carried out with two models, ECOMAG and SWAP, which are applied for the Lena and Mackenzie River basins. The following three versions of every model are compared: (1) version A with a priori assigned parameters (without any calibration); (2) version B calibrated against streamflow observations at the basin outlets only, and (3) version C calibrated against streamflow observations at several gauges within the basins. We found that the B and C versions were successful in passing the CE-test, while the A versions failed the test. The C versions performed better than the B versions, especially at the monthly time scale. Then, all model versions were forced by global climate model (GCM) ensemble data to simulate flow projections for the twenty-first century and assess the projection uncertainty. Summarizing the results, we found that the differences in projections (in terms of mean annual changes in discharge and their uncertainties) between A version and two other versions were nearly three times larger than the differences between the B and C versions. Thus, the CE-test results together with the estimated differences in projections give us reason to conclude that the successful comprehensive evaluation of a model increases its confidence and suitability for impact assessment.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5

Similar content being viewed by others


Download references


The authors are grateful to three anonymous reviewers and guest editor Dr. V. Krysanova for their critical comments. Also, we would like to thank Dr. V. Krysanova for constructive discussions that motivated us to think about the study issue far before the earliest draft of the paper, as well as for her invitation to contribute in the Climatic Change Special Issue.

The numerical experiments were designed within the framework of the State Assignment theme № 0147-2019-0001.

The present work was carried out within the framework of the Panta Rhei Research Initiative of the International Association of Hydrological Sciences (IAHS).


Simulations by the SWAP model were financially supported by the Russian Science Foundation (Grant 16-17-10039). Simulations by the ECOMAG model were financially supported by the Russian Science Foundation (Grant 19-17-00215). Analysis of hydrological projections and their uncertainties was financially supported by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation (Grant MK-1753.2020.5).

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Alexander Gelfan.

Additional information

Publisher’s note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

This article is part of a Special Issue on “How evaluation of hydrological models influences results of climate impact assessment,” edited by Valentina Krysanova, Fred Hattermann, and Zbigniew Kundzewicz

Supplementary information


(DOCX 1.45 mb)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Gelfan, A., Kalugin, A., Krylenko, I. et al. Does a successful comprehensive evaluation increase confidence in a hydrological model intended for climate impact assessment?. Climatic Change 163, 1165–1185 (2020).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: