On the challenges of simulating streamflow in glacierized catchments of the Himalayas using satellite and reanalysis forcing data


Abstract Hydrologic assessment of climate change impacts on complex terrains and data-sparse regions like High Mountain Asia is a major challenge. Combining hydrological models with satellite and reanalysis data for evaluating changes in hydrological variables is often the only available approach. However, uncertainties associated with forcing dataset, coupled with model parameter uncertainties, can have significant impacts on hydrologic simulations. This work aims to understand and quantify how the uncertainty in precipitation and its interaction with the model uncertainty affect streamflow estimation in glacierized catchments. Simulations for four precipitation datasets (IMERG, CHIRPS, ERA5 Land, and APHRODITE) and two glaciohydrological models (GDM and HYMOD_DS) are evaluated for the Marsyangdi and Budhigandaki river basins in Nepal. Temperature sensitivity of streamflow simulations is also investigated. Relative to APHRODITE, which compared well with ground stations, ERA5 Land overestimate the catchment average precipitation for both basins by more than 70%; IMERG and CHIRPS overestimates by ∼20%. Precipitation uncertainty propagation to streamflow exhibits strong dependencies to model structure and streamflow components (snowmelt, icemelt, rainfallrunoff), but overall uncertainty dampens through precipitation-to-streamflow transformation. Temperature exerts a significant additional source of uncertainty in hydrologic simulations of such environments. GDM was found to be more sensitive to temperature variations, with textgreater50% increase in total flow for 20% increase in actual temperature, emphasizing that models that rely on lapse rates for the spatial distribution of temperature have much higher sensitivity. Results from this study provide critical insight into the challenges of utilizing satellite and reanalysis products for simulating streamflow in glacierized catchments.

Journal of Hydrometeorology

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