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H. S. Wheater, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering Imperial College, London UK,
N. McIntyre, Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, Imperial College, London UK,
T. Wagener, Civil and Environmental Engineering, The Pennsylvania State University, USA
The majority of continuous-time rainfall-runoff models can be classified as conceptual, as discussed in Chapter 1 (see also Wheater et al., 1993; Wheater, 2002). This type of model represents the hydrological processes that are seemingly important in the system using a simplified, conceptual representation (Fig. 8.1). These models have three notable characteristics: (a) their model structure is specified a priori, (b) the hydrological properties of the catchments are represented as parameters, which are generally assumed to be constant during each model application, (c) (at least some of) the model parameters have no direct, physical meaning and are not directly measurable. Therefore model parameters are usually estimated via calibration, using the fit of the model output time series to observed data to provide a measure of goodness of fit.
In this chapter we introduce the issues associated with calibration, and recent developments that allow the associated uncertainty to be specified. Finally the application of models to ungauged catchments (regional analysis) is discussed. For a more extensive treatment of these subjects, the reader is referred to Rainfall-Runoff Modelling in Gauged and Ungauged Catchments by Wagener et al. (2004) and also the AGU Monograph on Calibration of Watershed Models (Duan et al., 2003).
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