Risks in hydrological modelling due to uncertainties in discharge determination

Martijn J. Booij, Sander P.M. van den Tillaart, S.P.M. van den Tillaart, Martinus S. Krol

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Uncertainties in discharge determination may have serious consequences for hydrological modelling and resulting discharge predictions affecting flood and drought risk assessment and decision making. The aim of this study is to quantify the effect of discharge errors on parameters and performance of a conceptual hydrological model for discharge prediction applied to two catchments. Four error sources in discharge determination are considered: a combination of systematic and random measurement errors without autocorrelation; random measurement errors with autocorrelation; hysteresis in the discharge-water level relation; and effects of an outdated discharge–water level relation. Results show that systematic errors and an outdated discharge–water level relation have a considerable influence on model performance, while other error sources have a small to negligible effect. The effects of errors on parameters are large if the effects on model performance are large, and vice versa. Parameters controlling the water balance are influenced by systematic errors, and parameters related to the shape of the hydrograph are influenced by random errors. Large effects of discharge errors on model performance and parameters should be taken into account when using discharge predictions for risk assessment and decision making
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRisk in Water Resources Management
Subtitle of host publicationProceedings of Symposium H03 at IUGG2011
EditorsGunther Bloschl, Kuni Takeuchi, Sharad Jain, Andreas Farnleitner, Andreas Schumann
Place of PublicationMelbourne
PublisherIAHS Press
Number of pages276
ISBN (Print)9781907161223
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jun 2011
EventSymposium HS03 held during the IUGG GA - Melbourne
Duration: 28 Jun 20117 Jul 2011

Publication series

NameIAHS publication
PublisherIAHS Press
ISSN (Print)0144-7815


ConferenceSymposium HS03 held during the IUGG GA
Other28 June-7 Jullet 2011


  • METIS-276698
  • model calibration
  • Uncertainty
  • IR-78686
  • hydrological modelling
  • discharge determination
  • Meuse River


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