Improved simulation of peak flows under climate change: post-processing or composite opjective calibration?

Xujie Zhang, Martijn J. Booij, YuePing Xu

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Climate change is expected to have large impacts on peak flows. However, there may be bias in the simulation of peak flows by hydrological models. This study aims to improve the simulation of peak flows under climate change in Lanjiang catchment, east China, by comparing two approaches: postprocessing of peak flows and composite objective calibration. Two hydrological models [Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) and modèle du Génie Rural à 4 paramètres Journalier (GR4J)] are employed to simulate the daily flows, and the peaks-over-threshold method is used to extract peak flows from the simulated daily flows. Three postprocessing methods, namely, the quantile mapping method and two generalized linear models, are set up to correct the biases in the simulated raw peak flows. A composite objective calibration of the GR4J model by taking the peak flows into account in the calibration process is also carried out. The regional climate model Providing Regional Climates for Impacts Studies (PRECIS) with boundary forcing from two GCMs (HadCM3 and ECHAM5) under greenhouse gas emission scenario A1B is applied to produce the climate data for the baseline period and the future period 2011–40. The results show that the postprocessing methods, particularly quantile mapping method, can correct the biases in the raw peak flows effectively. The composite objective calibration also resulted in a good simulation performance of peak flows. The final estimated peak flows in the future period show an obvious increase compared with those in the baseline period, indicating there will probably be more frequent floods in Lanjiang catchment in the future.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2187-2208
JournalJournal of hydrometeorology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • IR-104365
  • METIS-313212


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