We simulate the 1950–2010 water balance for the conterminous U.S. (CONUS) with a monthly water balance model (MWBM) using the 800 m Parameter-elevation Regression on Independent Slopes Model (PRISM) data set as model input. We employed observed snow and streamflow data sets to guide modification of the snow and potential evapotranspiration components in the default model and to evaluate model performance. Based on various metrics and sensitivity tests, the modified model yields reasonably good simulations of seasonal snowpack in the West (range of bias of ±50 mm at 68% of 713 SNOTEL sites), the gradients and magnitudes of actual evapotranspiration, and runoff (median correlation of 0.83 and median Nash-Sutcliff efficiency of 0.6 between simulated and observed annual time series at 1427 USGS gage sites). The model generally performs well along the Pacific Coast, the high elevations of the Basin and Range and over the Midwest and East, but not as well over the dry areas of the Southwest and upper Plains regions due, in part, to the apportioning of direct versus delayed runoff. Sensitivity testing and application of the MWBM to simulate the future water balance at four National Parks when driven by 30 climate models from the Climate Model Intercomparison Program Phase 5 (CMIP5) demonstrate that the model is useful for evaluating first-order, climate driven hydrologic change on monthly and annual time scales.
Additional publication details
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Title||Implementation and evaluation of a monthly water balance model over the US on an 800 m grid|
|Series title||Water Resources Research|
|Contributing office(s)||National Research Program - Western Branch|
|Google Analytic Metrics||Metrics page|