Effect of Scale on SWAT Model Performance in Simulation of Runoff (Case Study: Haraz Catchment in Mazandaran Province)

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Ph.D. candidate, Faculty of Natural Resources, University of Sari Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources

2 Associate Professor, Faculty of Natural Resources, University of sari Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources

3 Assistant Professor, Faculty of Natural Resources, University of Gonbad

4 Associate Professor, Faculty of Natural Resources, University of Mohaghegh Ardabili


The performances of the hydrological models differ in simulating runoff within basins of various areas. The main objective followed here was to perform a multi-site (spatially distributed) calibration and validation of SWAT using monthly observed flows from 4 gauging stations in Haraz River and as well to assess the model’s capability in performing reliable simulations at spatial scales smaller than those in the calibration phase. To follow the purpose, sensitivity analysis performed, making use of SUFI2 method indicated which parameters to be used in autocalibration. CN parameter was chosen as the most sensitive one. The model simulated the time to peak as well as peak flow discharge with a highly suitable performance in the studied areas. The predicted monthly streamflow matched the observed values, with R­2 and NS of 0.80 and 0.77, respectively during calibration along with 0.87 and 0.75, respectively during validation. However, values of NS for sub catchments ranged from 0.55 to 0.73 during calibration, and 0.70 to 0.77 during validation. Findings indicate that the model performance works more appropriately in large area basins.


Main Subjects

Abbaspour, K.C., Yang, J., Maximov, I., Siber, R., Bogner, K., Mieleitner, J., Zobrist, J. and Srinivasan, R. (2007). Modeling hydrology and water quality in thepre-alpine/alpine Thur watershed using SWAT, Journal of Hydrology, 333, 413-430.
Ambroise, B., Perrin, J. L. and Reutenauer, D. (1995). Multi criterion validation of a semi-distributed conceptual model of the water cycle in the Fecht catchment (Vosges Massif, France), Water Resources Research, 31, 1467–1481.
Andersen, J., Refsgaard, J. C. and Jensen, K. H. (2001). Distributed hydrological modeling of the Senegal River Basin-model construction and validation, Journal of Hydrology, 247, 200–214.
Anquetin, S., Braud, I., Vannier, O., Viallet, P., Boudevillain, B., Creutin, J. D. and Manus, C. L. (2010). Sensitivity of the hydrological response to the variability of rainfall fields and soils for the Gard 2002 flash-flood event, J. Hydrol., 394, 134–147.
Arnell, N.W. (1999). A simple water balance model for the simulation of stream flow over a large geographic domain, Journal of Hydrology, 217, 314-335.
Arnold, J.G., Williams, J.R. and Maidment, D.A. (1992). Continuous-Time Water and Sediment-Routing Model for Large Basins. Journal of Hydraulic Engineering, 121 (2), 171-183.
Atfi, Gh. (2014). Flow and sediment yield prediction using SWAT model and ArcGIS in Ahar chai, Ms.c. dissertation, University of Ardabil, Mohaghegh Ardabili. (in Farsi)
Bekele, E. G. and Nicklow, J. W. (2007). Multi-objective automatic calibration of SWAT using NSGA-II, Journal of Hydrology, 341(3-4), 165-176.
Refsgaard, J. C. (1997). Parameterisation, calibration and validation of distributed hydrological models, Journal of Hydrology, 198, 69–97.
Benaman, J. and Shoemaker, C.A. (2005). An analysis of high-flow sediment event data for evaluating model performance, Hydrological Processes, 19(3), 605-620.
Beven, K.J. (2000). Rainfall-Runoff Modelling: The Primer. New York, N.Y., John Wiley and Sons.
Cao, W., Bowden, B. W., Davie, T. and Fenemor, A. (2006). Multi-variable and multi-site calibration and validation of SWAT in a large mountainous catchment with high spatial variability. Hydrology Processes, 20(5), 1057-1073.
Chu, T. W. and Shirmohammadi, A. (2004). Evaluation of the SWAT model's hydrology component in the Piedmont physiographic region of Maryland, Transations of the ASAE, 47(4), 1057-1073.
Demarty, J., Ottle, C., Braud, I., Olioso, A., Frangi, J. P., Gupta, H. V. and Bastidas, L. A. (2005). Constraining a physically based soil-vegetation-atmosphere transfer model with surface water content and thermal infrared brightness temperature measurements using a multi objective approach, Water Resources Research, 41(1), 1-15.
Dooge, J.C.I. (1986). Looking for hydrologic laws, Water Resources Research, 22, 46-58.
Duan, Q., Sorooshian, S. and Gupta, V. (1992). Effective and efficient global optimization for conceptual rainfall-runoff models, Water Resourc Research. 28, 1015-1031.
Khu, S. T., Madsen, H. and di Pierro, F. (2008). Incorporating multiple observations for distributed hydrologic model calibration: An approach using a multi-objective evolutionary algorithm and clustering, Water Resources Research, 31, 1387–1398.
Duan, Q., Sorooshian, S., Gupta, H.V., Rousseau, A.N. and Turcotte, R. (2013). Advances in Automatic Calibration of Watershed Models, Calibration of watershed models, Willy, 9-28.
Eagleson, P.S. (1986). The emergence of global-scale hydrology, Water Resources Research, 22 (9), S6-14.
Etienne, L., Anctil, F., Van Grienseven, A. and Beauchamp, N. (2008). Evaluation of stream flow simulation by SWAT model for two small watersheds under snowmelt and rainfall, Hydrological sciences journal, 53(5), 961-976.
Gollamudi, A., Madramootoo C. A. and Enright, P. (2007). Water quality modeling of two agricultural fields in southern Quebec using SWAT, Transactions of the ASABE, 50(6), 1973-1980.
Golshan, M. (2013). Flow and sediment yield prediction using SWAT model in haraz watershed, Mazandaran Province, MS.c dissertation, University of Sari, Scince agricalture and nathral resourse. (In Farsi)
Griensven, V.A. and Meixner, T. (2006). Methods to quantify and identify the sources ofuncertainty for river basin water quality models, Journal of Water Science and Technology, 53:51-59.
Gupta, H. V., Sorooshian, S. and Yapo, P. O. (1998). Toward improved calibration of hydrologic models: Multiple and noncommensurable measures of information, Water Resource Research, 34(4), 751-763.
Henriksen, H.J., Troldborg, L., Nyegaard, P., Sonnenborg, T.O., Refsgaard, J.C. and Madsen, B. (2003). Methodology for construction, calibration and validation of a national hydrological model for Denmark, J. Hydrol., 280, 52–71.
Holvoet, K., van Griensven, A., Seuntjens, P. and Vanrolleghem, P.A. (2005). Sensitivity analysis for hydrology and pesticide supply towards the river in SWAT, Physics and Chemistry of the Earth, 30 (8), 518‐526.
Hwa, K., Pachepsky, Y.A., Ha, J., Kim, J. and Park, M. (2012). The modified SWAT model for predicting fecal coliforms in the Wachusett Reservoir Watershed , Water Research, 46(15), 4750–4760.
Kouwen, N. and Mousavi, S.F. (2002). WATFLOOD/SPL9: hydrological model and flood forecasting system and flood forecasting system In Mathematical Models of Large Watershed Hydrology, Water Resources, Highlands Ranch.
Krysanova, V., MullerWohlfeil, D.I. and Becker, A. (1998). Development and test of a spatially distributed hydrological water quality model for mesoscale watersheds, Journal Ecological Modelling, 106, 261–289.
Lehner, B., Doll, P., Alcamo, J., Henrichs, T. and Kaspar, F. (2006). Estimating the impact of global change on flood and drought risks in Europe: a continental, integrated analysis, Jornal of Climatic Change, 75, 273–299.
Lesschen, J.P., Schoorl, J.M. and Cammeraat, L.H. (2009). Modelling runoff and erosion for a semi-arid catchment using a multi-scale approach based on hydrological connectivity, Journal of Geomorphology, 109, 174–183.
Mirsane, S., Kavianpor, Z. and Delavar, M. (2009). Assessment impact of Hydrological various parameters on watershed runoff by SWAT model, In Proceedings: Eighth the Civil Engineering International Congress, May 11-13., Shiraz, Iran, PP. 1-9. (In Farsi)
Namdar, M. (2014). Surface Runoff Prediction based onClimate Change in Haraz Watershed, M.Sc dissertation, Universitu of Sari, Scince agricalture and nathral resourse. (in Farsi)
Neitsch, S.L., Arnold, J.G., Kinity, J.R. and Williams, J.R. (2011). Soil and water assessment tool theoretical documentation version 2009, College Station: Texas Water Resources Institute, Technical Report no 406.
Omani, N., Tajrishi, M. and Abrishamchi, A. (2006). Simulating of Runoff by SWAT & GIS, In Proceedings; Seventh international seminar of river engineering, January 14-16., Ahvaz, Iran, PP. (in Farsi)
Osmani, H., Motamed Vaziri, B. and Moeini, A. (2013). Flow simulation, calibration and validashion SWAT model (case study of upstream the Latyan dam). Journal of watershed engineering and management, 5, 134-143.
Panagopoulos, Y., Makropoulos, C., Baltas. E. and Mimikou, M. (2011). SWAT parameterization for the identification of critical diffuse pollution source areas under data limitations, Journal of Ecologinal Modelling, 222, 3500- 3512.
Ridwansyah, I., Pawitan, H., Sinukaban, N. and Hidayat, Y. (2014). Watershed Modeling with ArcSWAT and SUFI2 In Cisadane Catchment Area: Calibration and Validation of River Flow Prediction. Journal of Science and Engineering, 6, 92-101.
Robert, S.A., Scott, w.w. and Hans, R.Z. ( 2008). Hhdrologic Calibration and Validation of SWAT in a snow dominated rocky mountain Watershed, Montana, U.S.A. Journal the American Water Resources Assocation, 44, 1411-1430.
Rostameian, R., mosavi, S.F., Manochehr, H., Afyoni, M. and Abaspor, K. (2008). Evaluation of runoff and sediment Yield using SWAT2000 model in the North Karon in Beheshtabad watershed, Journal Sience and Technology of Agriculture and Natural Resources, 48, 531-517.(In Farsi)
Salmani, H. (2011). Optimization of the parameters affecting the rain fall-run off in SWAT semi distributive model (case study of Ghazaghli subwatershed, (Gorganrood waterhed), MS.c dissertation, University of tehran.
Salmani, H., Mohseni Saravi, M., Rouhani, H. and Salajeghe, A. (2012). Evaluation of Land Use Change and its Impact on the Hydrological Process in the Ghazaghli Watershed (Golestan Province), Journal of Watershed Management Research, 3(6), 43-60. (In Farsi)
Santhi, C., Arnold, J. G., Williams, J. R., Dugas, W. A. and Hauck, L. (2001). Validation of the SWAT model on a large river basin with point and nonpoint sources. Journal of American Water Resources Association, 37(5), 1169-1188.
Setegn, S. G., Dargahi, B., Srinivasan, R. and Melesse, A. M. (2010). Modeling of Sediment Yield From Anjeni-Gauged Watershed, Ethiopia Using SWAT Model, JAWRA Journal of the American Water Resources Association, 46(3), 514–526.
Shafiei, M., Ansari, H., Davari, K. and Gahreman. (2013). Calibration and uncertainty analysis of a semi-distributed model in a semi-arid region, (case study:Watershed management Nishabor). Journal of Science and Technology of Agriculture and Natural Resources, 64 (7), 148-137. (In Farsi)
Sivapalan, M. (2003). Process complexity at hillslope scale, process simplicity at the watershed scale: Is there a connection?, Hydrology Process, 17, 1037–1041.
Smerdon, B. D., Allen, D. M., Grasby, S. E. and Berg, M. A. (2009). An approach for predicting groundwater recharge in mountainous watersheds, Journal of Hydrology, 365, 156–172, 2009.
Sommerlot, A., Nejadhashemi, A., Woznicki, S., Giri, S. and Prohaska, M. (2013). Evaluating the capabilities of watershed-scale models in estimating sediment yield at field-scale, Journal of Environmental Management,127, 227-236.
Spruill, C. A., Workman, S. R. and Taraba, J. L. (2000). Simulation of daily and monthly stream discharge from small watersheds using the SWAT model, Transations of the ASABE, 43(6), 1431-1439.
Spruill, C.A., Workman, S.R. and Taraba, J.L. (2000). Simulation of Daily and Monthly Stream Discharge From Small Watersheds Using the SWAT Model, Journal of Transactions of the American Society of Agricultural Engineers, 43, 1431-1439.
Tang, F.F., XU, H.S. and XU, Z.X. (2012). Model calibration and uncertainty analysis for runoff in the Chao River Basin using sequential uncertainty fitting, Procedia Environmental Sciences, 13, 1760-1770.
Tolson, B. A. and Shoemaker, C. A. (2004). Watershed modeling of the Cannonsville basin using SWAT2000:Model development, calibration and validation for the prediction of flow, sediment and phosphorus transport to the Cannonsville reservoir. Technical Report, School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Cornell University, Ithaca.
van Griensven, A. and Meixner, T. (2006). Methods to quantify and identify the sources of uncertainty for river basin water quality models. Water SciTechnol, 53(1), 51-59.
Van Liew, M. W. and Garbrecht, J. (2003). Hydrologic simulation of the Little Washita River experimental watershed using SWAT. Journal of American Water Resources Association, 39(2), 413-426.
Vinogrado, Y.B., Semenova, O.M. and Vingoradova, T.V. (2010). An approach to the scaling problem in hydrological modelling: the deterministic modelling hydrological system. Journal Hydrological Processes, 24, 1-19.
Wang, S., Zhang, Z., Sun, G., Strauss, P., Guo, j., Tang, Y. and Yao, A. (2012).Multi-site calibration, validation, and sensitivity analysis of the MIKE SHE Model for a large watershed in northern China. Hydrology Earth System Sciences, 16, 4621–4632.
Dai, Z., Li, C., Trettin, C., Sun, G., Amatya, D. and Li, H. (2010). Bicriteria evaluation of the MIKE SHE model for a forested watershed on the South Carolina coastal plain, Hydrology Earth System Sciences, 14, 1033–1046.
Wang, X. and Melesse, A.M. (2005). Evaluation of the SWAT model’s snow melt hydrology in a northwestern minnesota watershed, Journal Transactions of the ASAE, 48(4), 1–18.
Weingartner, R., Barben, M. and Spreafico, M. (2003). Floods in mountain areas–an overview based on examples from Switzerland. Journal of Hydrology, 282, 10–24.
White, L. K. and Chaubey, I. (2005). Sensitivity analysis, calibration, and validations for a multisite and multivariable SWAT model, Journal of American Water Resources Association, 41(5), 1077–1089.
Winchell, M., Srinivasan, R., Luzio, M.D. and Arnold, J.G. (2012). Arc–SWAT interfaces for SWAT2009-User’s guide. USDA Agricultural Research Service and Texas A&M Blackland Research Center, Temple, Texas.
Yang, J., Reicher, P., Abbaspour, K.C., Xia, J. and Yang, H. (2008). Comparing uncertainty analysis techniques for a SWAT application to the Chao he Basin in China. Journal of Hydrology, 358 (1–2), 1–23.
Yang, J., Reichert, P., Abbaspour, K. C., Xia, J. and Yang, H. (2008). Comparing uncertainty analysis techniques for a SWAT application to the Chaohe Basin in China. Journal of Hydrology, 358(1–2), 1–23.
Yapo, P.O, Gupta, H.V. and Sorooshian, S. (1996). Automatic calibration of conceptual rainfall runoff models: Sensitivity to calibration data, Journal of Hydrology, 181(1–4), 23–48.
Zhang, X., Srinivasan, R. and Hao, F. (2007). Predicting hydrologic response to climate change in the Luohe River basin using the SWAT model, Transations of the ASABE, 50(3), 901–910.
Zuo. D., Xu, Z., Zhao, J., Abbaspour, K and Yang, H. (2014). Response of runoff to climate change in the Wei River basin, China, Hydrological Sciences Journal, manuscript, Retrieved November 08, 2014, from http://www.tandfonline.com/toc/thsj20/current#.VJ–6NVCIQ