The Land Dynamics (LaD) model is tested by comparison with observations of interannual variations in discharge from 44 large river basins for which relatively accurate time series of monthly precipitation (a primary model input) have recently been computed. When results are pooled across all basins, the model explains 67% of the interannual variance of annual runoff ratio anomalies (i.e., anomalies of annual discharge volume, normalized by long-term mean precipitation volume). The new estimates of basin precipitation appear to offer an improvement over those from a state-of-the-art analysis of global precipitation (the Climate Prediction Center Merged Analysis of Precipitation, CMAP), judging from comparisons of parallel model runs and of analyses of precipitation-discharge correlations. When the new precipitation estimates are used, the performance of the LaD model is comparable to, but not significantly better than, that of a simple, semiempirical water-balance relation that uses only annual totals of surface net radiation and precipitation. This implies that the LaD simulations of interannual runoff variability do not benefit substantially from information on geographical variability of land parameters or seasonal structure of interannual variability of precipitation. The aforementioned analyses necessitated the development of a method for downscaling of long-term monthly precipitation data to the relatively short timescales necessary for running the model. The method merges the long-term data with a reference dataset of 1-yr duration, having high temporal resolution. The success of the method, for the model and data considered here, was demonstrated in a series of model-model comparisons and in the comparisons of modeled and observed interannual variations of basin discharge.
Additional publication details
Global modeling of land water and energy balances. Part III: Interannual variability