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Juraj Parajka, Ralf Merz, Jon Olav Skøien and Alberto Viglione

Abstract

Direct interpolation of daily runoff observations to ungauged sites is an alternative to hydrological model regionalisation. Such estimation is particularly important in small headwater basins characterized by sparse hydrological and climate observations, but often large spatial variability. The main objective of this study is to evaluate predictive accuracy of top-kriging interpolation driven by different number of stations (i.e. station densities) in an input dataset. The idea is to interpolate daily runoff for different station densities in Austria and to evaluate the minimum number of stations needed for accurate runoff predictions. Top-kriging efficiency is tested for ten different random samples in ten different stations densities. The predictive accuracy is evaluated by ordinary cross-validation and full-sample crossvalidations. The methodology is tested by using 555 gauges with daily observations in the period 1987-1997. The results of the cross-validation indicate that, in Austria, top-kriging interpolation is superior to hydrological model regionalisation if station density exceeds approximately 2 stations per 1000 km2 (175 stations in Austria). The average median of Nash-Sutcliffe cross-validation efficiency is larger than 0.7 for densities above 2.4 stations/1000 km2. For such densities, the variability of runoff efficiency is very small over ten random samples. Lower runoff efficiency is found for low station densities (less than 1 station/1000 km2) and in some smaller headwater basins.

Open access

Pavel Krajčí, Ladislav Holko and Juraj Parajka

Abstract

Spatial and temporal variability of snow line (SL) elevation, snow cover area (SCA) and depletion (SCD) in winters 2001–2014 is investigated in ten main Slovak river basins (the Western Carpathians). Daily satellite snow cover maps from MODIS Terra (MOD10A1, V005) and Aqua (MYD10A1, V005) with resolution 500 m are used.

The results indicate three groups of basins with similar variability in the SL elevation. The first includes basins with maximum elevations above 1500 m a.s.l. (Poprad, Upper Váh, Hron, Hornád). Winter median SL is equal or close to minimum basin elevation in snow rich winters in these basins. Even in snow poor winters is SL close to the basin mean. Second group consists of mid-altitude basins with maximum elevation around 1000 m a.s.l. (Slaná, Ipeľ, Nitra, Bodrog). Median SL varies between 150 and 550 m a.s.l. in January and February, which represents approximately 40–80% snow coverage. Median SL is near the maximum basin elevation during the snow poor winters. This means that basins are in such winters snow free approximately 50% of days in January and February. The third group includes the Rudava/Myjava and Lower Váh/Danube. These basins have their maximum altitude less than 700 m a.s.l. and only a small part of these basins is covered with snow even during the snow rich winters.

The evaluation of SCA shows that snow cover typically starts in December and last to February. In the highest basins (Poprad, Upper Váh), the snow season sometimes tends to start earlier (November) and lasts to March/April. The median of SCA is, however, less than 10% in these months. The median SCA of entire winter season is above 70% in the highest basins (Poprad, Upper Váh, Hron), ranges between 30–60% in the mid-altitude basins (Hornád, Slaná, Ipeľ, Nitra, Bodrog) and is less than 1% in the Myjava/Rudava and Lower Váh/Danube basins. However, there is a considerable variability in seasonal coverage between the years. Our results indicate that there is no significant trend in mean SCA in the period 2001–2014, but periods with larger and smaller SCA exist. Winters in the period 2002–2006 have noticeably larger mean SCA than those in the period 2007–2012.

Snow depletion curves (SDC) do not have a simple evolution in most winters. The snowmelt tends to start between early February and the end of March. The snowmelt lasts between 8 and 15 days on average in lowland and high mountain basins, respectively. Interestingly, the variability in SDC between the winters is much larger than between the basins.

Open access

Günter Blöschl, Jan Szolgay, Juraj Parajka, Silvia Kohnová and Pavol Miklánek

Open access

Maria M. Cárdenas Gaudry, Dieter Gutknecht, Juraj Parajka, Rui A.P. Perdigão and Günter Blöschl

Abstract

The aim of this study is to understand the seasonalities of runoff and precipitation and their controls along two transects in Peru and one transect in Austria. The analysis is based on daily precipitation data at 111 and 61 stations in Peru and Austria, respectively, and daily discharge data at 51 and 110 stations. The maximum Pardé coefficient is used to quantify the strength of the seasonalities of monthly precipitation and runoff. Circular statistics are used to quantify the seasonalities of annual maximum daily precipitation and annual maximum daily runoff. The results suggest that much larger spatial variation in seasonality in Peru is because of the large diversity in climate and topography. In the dry Peruvian lowlands of the North, the strength of the monthly runoff seasonality is smaller than that of precipitation due to a relatively short rainy period from January to March, catchment storage and the effect of upstream runoff contributions that are more uniform within the year. In the Peruvian highlands in the South, the strength of the monthly runoff seasonality is greater than that of precipitation, or similar, due to relatively little annual precipitation and rather uniform evaporation within the year. In the Austrian transect, the strength of the runoff seasonality is greater than that of precipitation due to the influence of snowmelt in April to June. The strength of monthly regime of precipitation and runoff controls the concentration of floods and extreme precipitation in Peruvian transects. The regions with strong monthly seasonality of runoff have also extreme events concentrated along the same time of the year and the occurrence of floods is mainly controlled by the seasonality of precipitation. In Austria, the monthly runoff maxima and floods occur in the same season in the Alps. In the lowlands, the flood seasonality is controlled mainly by summer extreme precipitation and its interplay with larger soil moisture. The analyses of precipitation and runoff data along topographic gradients in Peru and Austria showed that, overall, in Peru the spatial variation in seasonality is much larger than in Austria. This is because of the larger diversity in climate and topography.

Open access

Katarína Jeneiová, Silvia Kohnová, Julia Hall and Juraj Parajka

Abstract

The objective of this study is to analyse the spatial variability of seasonal flood occurrences in the Upper Danube region for the period 1961-2010. The analysis focuses on the understanding of the factors that control the spatial variability of winter and summer floods in 88 basins with different physiographic conditions. The evaluation is based on circular statistics, which compare the changes in the mean date and in the seasonal flood concentration index within a year or predefined season.

The results indicate that summer half-year and winter half-year floods are dominant in the Alps and northern Danube tributaries, respectively. A comparison of the relative magnitude of flood events indicates that summer half-year floods are on average more than 50% larger than floods in winter. The evaluation of flood occurrence showed that the values of seasonal flood concentration index (median 0.75) in comparison to the annual floods (median 0.58) shows higher temporal concentration of floods. The flood seasonality of winter events is dominant in the Alps; however, along the northern fringe (i.e. the Isar, Iller and Inn River) the timing of winter half-year floods is diverse. The seasonal concentration of summer floods tends to increase with increasing mean elevation of the basins. The occurrence of the three largest summer floods is more stable, i.e. they tend to occur around the same time for the majority of analysed basins. The results show that fixing the summer and winter seasons to specific months does not always allow a clear distinction of the main flood generation processes. Therefore, criteria to define flood typologies that are more robust are needed for regions such as the Upper Danube, with large climate and topographical variability between the lowland and high elevations, particularly for the assessment of the effect of increasing air temperature on snowmelt runoff and associated floods.

Open access

Massimiliano Zappa, Ladislav Holko, Martin Šanda, Tomáš Vitvar and Juraj Parajka

Open access

Patrik Sleziak, Ján Szolgay, Kamila Hlavčová, Doris Duethmann, Juraj Parajka and Michal Danko

Abstract

In many Austrian catchments in recent decades an increase in the mean annual air temperature and precipitation has been observed, but only a small change in the mean annual runoff. The main objective of this paper is (1) to analyze alterations in the performance of a conceptual hydrological model when applied in changing climate conditions and (2) to assess the factors and model parameters that control these changes. A conceptual rainfall-runoff model (the TUW model) was calibrated and validated in 213 Austrian basins from 1981–2010. The changes in the runoff model’s efficiency have been compared with changes in the mean annual precipitation and air temperature and stratified for basins with dominant snowmelt and soil moisture processes. The results indicate that while the model’s efficiency in the calibration period has not changed over the decades, the values of the model’s parameters and hence the model’s performance (i.e., the volume error and the runoff model’s efficiency) in the validation period have changed. The changes in the model’s performance are greater in basins with a dominant soil moisture regime. For these basins, the average volume error which was not used in calibration has increased from 0% (in the calibration periods 1981–1990 or 2001–2010) to 9% (validation period 2001–2010) or –8% (validation period 1981–1990), respectively. In the snow-dominated basins, the model tends to slightly underestimate runoff volumes during its calibration (average volume error = –4%), but the changes in the validation periods are very small (i.e., the changes in the volume error are typically less than 1–2%). The model calibrated in a colder decade (e.g., 1981–1990) tends to overestimate the runoff in a warmer and wetter decade (e.g., 2001–2010), particularly in flatland basins. The opposite case (i.e., the use of parameters calibrated in a warmer decade for a colder, drier decade) indicates a tendency to underestimate runoff. A multidimensional analysis by regression trees showed that the change in the simulated runoff volume is clearly related to the change in precipitation, but the relationship is not linear in flatland basins. The main controlling factor of changes in simulated runoff volumes is the magnitude of the change in precipitation for both groups of basins. For basins with a dominant snowmelt runoff regime, the controlling factors are also the wetness of the basins and the mean annual precipitation. For basins with a soil moisture regime, landcover (forest) plays an important role.

Open access

Alberto Viglione, Magdalena Rogger, Herbert Pirkl, Juraj Parajka and Günter Blöschl

Abstract

Since the beginning of hydrological research hydrologists have developed models that reflect their perception about how the catchments work and make use of the available information in the most efficient way. In this paper we develop hydrologic models based on field-mapped runoff generation mechanisms as identified by a geologist. For four different catchments in Austria, we identify four different lumped model structures and constrain their parameters based on the field-mapped information. In order to understand the usefulness of geologic information, we test their capability to predict river discharge in different cases: (i) without calibration and (ii) using the standard split-sample calibration/ validation procedure. All models are compared against each other. Results show that, when no calibration is involved, using the right model structure for the catchment of interest is valuable. A-priori information on model parameters does not always improve the results but allows for more realistic model parameters. When all parameters are calibrated to the discharge data, the different model structures do not matter, i.e., the differences can largely be compensated by the choice of parameters. When parameters are constrained based on field-mapped runoff generation mechanisms, the results are not better but more consistent between different calibration periods. Models selected by runoff generation mechanisms are expected to be more robust and more suitable for extrapolation to conditions outside the calibration range than models that are purely based on parameter calibration to runoff data.

Open access

Silvia Kohnová, Ladislav Gaál, Tomáš Bacigál, Ján Szolgay, Kamila Hlavčová, Peter Valent, Juraj Parajka and Günter Blöschl

Abstract

The case study aims at selecting optimal bivariate copula models of the relationships between flood peaks and flood volumes from a regional perspective with a particular focus on flood generation processes. Besides the traditional approach that deals with the annual maxima of flood events, the current analysis also includes all independent flood events. The target region is located in the northwest of Austria; it consists of 69 small and mid-sized catchments. On the basis of the hourly runoff data from the period 1976- 2007, independent flood events were identified and assigned to one of the following three types of flood categories: synoptic floods, flash floods and snowmelt floods. Flood events in the given catchment are considered independent when they originate from different synoptic situations. Nine commonly-used copula types were fitted to the flood peak - flood volume pairs at each site. In this step, two databases were used: i) a process-based selection of all the independent flood events (three data samples at each catchment) and ii) the annual maxima of the flood peaks and the respective flood volumes regardless of the flood processes (one data sample per catchment). The goodness-of-fit of the nine copula types was examined on a regional basis throughout all the catchments. It was concluded that (1) the copula models for the flood processes are discernible locally; (2) the Clayton copula provides an unacceptable performance for all three processes as well as in the case of the annual maxima; (3) the rejection of the other copula types depends on the flood type and the sample size; (4) there are differences in the copulas with the best fits: for synoptic and flash floods, the best performance is associated with the extreme value copulas; for snowmelt floods, the Frank copula fits the best; while in the case of the annual maxima, no firm conclusion could be made due to the number of copulas with similarly acceptable overall performances. The general conclusion from this case study is that treating flood processes separately is beneficial; however, the usually available sample size in such real life studies is not sufficient to give generally valid recommendations for engineering design tasks.

Open access

Ladislav Gaál, Ján Szolgay, Tomáš Bacigál, Silvia Kohnová, Kamila Hlavčová, Roman Výleta, Juraj Parajka and Günter Blöschl

Abstract

This paper analyses the bivariate relationship between flood peaks and corresponding flood event volumes modelled by empirical copulas in a regional context in the North-West of Austria. Flood data of a total of 69 catchments in the region are analysed for the period 1976–2007. In order to increase the sample size and the homogeneity of the samples for the statistical analysis, 24872 hydrologically independent flood events were isolated and assigned to one of three flood process types: synoptic floods, flash floods or snowmelt floods in contrary to the more traditional engineering approach of selecting annual maxima of flood peaks and corresponding flood volumes. The first major part of the paper examines whether the empirical peak-volume copulas of different flood process types are statistically distinguishable, separately for each catchment. The results indicate that the empirical copulas of flash floods tend to be different from those of the synoptic and snowmelt floods in the target region. The second part examines how similar are the empirical flood peak-volume copulas between catchments for a given flood type. For the majority of catchment pairs, the empirical copulas of all flood types are indeed statistically similar. The flash floods show the largest degree of spatial heterogeneity. It is concluded that there is merit in treating flood types separately and in pooling events of the same type in a region when analysing and estimating flood peak-volume dependence copulas; however, the sample size of the analysed events is a limiting factor in spite of the introduced event selection procedure.