Determination and integration of appropriate spatial scales for river basin modelling

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Appropriate spatial scales of dominant variables are determined and integrated into an appropriate model scale. This is done in the context of the impact of climate change on flooding in the River Meuse in Western Europe. The objective is achieved by using observed elevation, soil type, land use type and daily precipitation data from several sources and employing different relationships between scales, variable statistics and outputs. The appropriate spatial scale of a key variable is assumed to be equal to a fraction of the spatial correlation length of that variable. This fraction was determined on the basis of relationships between statistics and scale and an accepted error in the estimation of the statistic of 10%. This procedure resulted in an appropriate spatial scale for precipitation of about 20 km in an earlier study. The application to river basin variables revealed appropriate spatial scales for elevation, soil and land use of respectively 0·1, 5·3 and 3·3 km. The appropriate model scale is determined by multiplying the appropriate variable scales with their associated weights. The weights are based on SCS curve number method relationships between the peak discharge and some specific parameters like slope and curve number. The values of these parameters are dependent on the scale of each key variable. The resulting appropriate model scale is about 10 km, implying 225-250 model cells in an appropriate model of the Meuse basin meant to assess the impact of climate change on river flooding. The usefulness of the appropriateness procedure is in its ability to assess the appropriate scales of the individual key variables before model construction and integrate them in a balanced way into an appropriate model scale. Another use of the procedure is that it provides a framework for decisions about the reduction or expansion of data networks and needs
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2581-2598
Number of pages18
JournalHydrological processes
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - 2003


  • METIS-208781
  • IR-61513


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