Application and evaluation of a snowmelt runoff model in the Tamor River basin, Eastern Himalaya using a Markov Chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) data assimilation approach
Previous studies have drawn attention to substantial hydrological changes taking place in mountainous watersheds where hydrology is dominated by cryospheric processes. Modelling is an important tool for understanding these changes but is particularly challenging in mountainous terrain owing to scarcity of ground observations and uncertainty of model parameters across space and time. This study utilizes a Markov Chain Monte Carlo data assimilation approach to examine and evaluate the performance of a conceptual, degree-day snowmelt runoff model applied in the Tamor River basin in the eastern Nepalese Himalaya. The snowmelt runoff model is calibrated using daily streamflow from 2002 to 2006 with fairly high accuracy (average Nash-Sutcliffe metric ~0.84, annual volume bias<3%). The Markov Chain Monte Carlo approach constrains the parameters to which the model is most sensitive (e.g. lapse rate and recession coefficient) and maximizes model fit and performance. Model simulated streamflow using an interpolated precipitation data set decreases the fractional contribution from rainfall compared with simulations using observed station precipitation. The average snowmelt contribution to total runoff in the Tamor River basin for the 2002-2006 period is estimated to be 29.7±2.9% (which includes 4.2±0.9% from snowfall that promptly melts), whereas 70.3±2.6% is attributed to contributions from rainfall. On average, the elevation zone in the 4000-5500m range contributes the most to basin runoff, averaging 56.9±3.6% of all snowmelt input and 28.9±1.1% of all rainfall input to runoff. Model simulated streamflow using an interpolated precipitation data set decreases the fractional contribution from rainfall versus snowmelt compared with simulations using observed station precipitation. Model experiments indicate that the hydrograph itself does not constrain estimates of snowmelt versus rainfall contributions to total outflow but that this derives from the degree-day melting model. Lastly, we demonstrate that the data assimilation approach is useful for quantifying and reducing uncertainty related to model parameters and thus provides uncertainty bounds on snowmelt and rainfall contributions in such mountainous watersheds.
Panday, Prajjwal K.; Williams, Christopher A.; Frey, Karen E.; and Brown, Molly E., "Application and evaluation of a snowmelt runoff model in the Tamor River basin, Eastern Himalaya using a Markov Chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) data assimilation approach" (2014). Geography. 220.