Several two- to six-parameter regional water balance models are examined by using 50-year records of monthly streamflow at 10 sites in New Jersey. These models include variants of the Thornthwaite-Mather model, the Palmer model, and the more recent Thomas abcd model. Prediction errors are relatively similar among the models. However, simulated values of state variables such as soil moisture storage differ substantially among the models, and fitted parameter values for different models sometimes indicated an entirely different type of basin response to precipitation. Some problems in parameter identification are noted, including difficulties in identifying an appropriate time lag factor for the Thornthwaite-Mather-type model for basins with little groundwater storage, very high correlations between upper and lower storages in the Palmer-type model, and large sensitivity of parameter a of the abcd model to bias in estimates of precipitation and potential evapotranspiration. Modifications to the threshold concept of the Thornthwaite-Mather model were statistically valid for the six stations in northern New Jersey. The abcd model resulted in a simulated seasonal cycle of groundwater levels similar to fluctuations observed in nearby wells but with greater persistence. These results suggest that extreme caution should be used in attaching physical significance to model parameters and in using the state variables of the models in indices of drought and basin productivity.
Additional publication details
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Title||On the treatment of evapotranspiration, soil moisture accounting, and aquifer recharge in monthly water balance models|
|Series title||Water Resources Research|
|Publisher||American Geophysical Union|
|Google Analytic Metrics||Metrics page|