In this study, the value of proxy data was explored for calibrating a conceptual hydrologic model for small ungauged basins, i.e. ungauged in terms of runoff. The study site was a 66 ha Austrian experimental catchment dominated by agricultural land use, the Hydrological Open Air Laboratory (HOAL). The three modules of a conceptual, lumped hydrologic model (snow, soil moisture accounting and runoff generation) were calibrated step-by-step using only proxy data, and no runoff observations. Using this stepwise approach, the relative runoff volume errors in the calibration and first and second validation periods were –0.04, 0.19 and 0.17, and the monthly Pearson correlation coefficients were 0.88, 0.71 and 0.64, respectively. By using proxy data, the simulation of state variables improved compared to model calibration in one step using only runoff data. Using snow and soil moisture information for model calibration, the runoff model performance was comparable to the scenario when the model was calibrated using only runoff data. While the runoff simulation performance using only proxy data did not considerably improve compared to a scenario when the model was calibrated on runoff data, the more accurately simulated state variables imply that the process consistency improved.

Publication timeframe:
4 times per year
Journal Subjects:
Engineering, Introductions and Overviews, other