Replication of ecologically relevant hydrological indicators following a modified covariance approach to hydrological model parameterization

Annie Visser-Quinn*, Lindsay Beevers, Sandhya Patidar

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
72 Downloads (Pure)


Hydrological models can be used to assess the impact of hydrologic alteration on the river ecosystem. However, there are considerable limitations and uncertainties associated with the replication of ecologically relevant hydrological indicators. Vogel and Sankarasubramanian's 2003 (Water Resources Research) covariance approach to model evaluation and parameterization represents a shift away from algorithmic model calibration with traditional performance measures (objective functions). Using the covariance structures of the observed input and simulated output time series, it is possible to assess whether the selected hydrological model is able to capture the relevant underlying processes. From this plausible parameter space, the region of parameter space which best captures (replicates) the characteristics of a hydrological indicator may be identified. In this study, a modified covariance approach is applied to five hydrologically diverse case study catchments with a view to replicating a suite of ecologically relevant hydrological indicators identified through catchment-specific hydroecological models. The identification of the plausible parameter space (here n ≈20) is based on the statistical importance of these indicators. Evaluation is with respect to performance and consistency across each catchment, parameter set, and the 40 ecologically relevant hydrological indicators considered. Timing and rate of change indicators are the best and worst replicated respectively. Relative to previous studies, an overall improvement in consistency is observed. This study represents an important advancement towards the robust application of hydrological models for ecological flow studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3279-3303
Number of pages25
JournalHydrology and Earth System Sciences
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 9 Aug 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)


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