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Navigating Hydrological Model Intercomparison Projects in Cold Regions: Unveiling Challenges, Insights, and Future Paths – A Case from Nelson-MIP II

Description: Intercomparison studies have evaluated the utility and constraints of existing hydrological and climate models worldwide. While some of these hydrological studies focused on cold Northern latitude regions, the initial phase of the Nelson Churchill River Basin (NCRB) Model Intercomparison Project (Nelson-MIP) was the sole effort to examine unregulated watersheds in this transboundary basin in Southwestern Canada and Northwestern United States. Thus far, there remains a lack of clarity regarding the performance of various models in regulated watersheds around the globe and specifically within this complex region.

Therefore, the primary aim of this study, constituting the second phase of the Nelson-MIP project, is to assess the performance of hydrological models in both regulated and unregulated watersheds within the NCRB, an area characterized by 95 reservoirs and managed lakes, numerous diversions and irrigation withdrawals, and significant areas of the North American Prairie region with millions of unmanaged lake and wetland systems. Four hydrological models contribute to this phase and are setup using standardized input datasets to facilitate accurate comparisons. The performance of the models is evaluated against streamflow, actual evapotranspiration (AET), and snow water equivalent (SWE) simulations. Results reveal that two models exhibit diminished streamflow performance across the Prairie region in comparison to the broader NCRB. While AET and SWE simulations were generally accurate across the entire NCRB, one model encounters challenges in replicating AET patterns across the Prairies, a factor not reflected in the streamflow evaluation. This investigation highlights structural limitations within the participating models, particularly their insufficient representation of flow regulation and contributing area dynamics, which underscores the need for future enhancements. Moreover, this study underscores the complexities involved in conducting large-scale intercomparison studies and offers strategies for addressing these challenges in future research endeavors.
Notes: Detailed information about the different files or datasets is available in the README file.
Authors: Ahmed, Mohamed Ismaiel; University of Calgary; ORCID iD 0000-0003-3423-7041
Stadnyk, Tricia; University of Calgary; ORCID iD 0000-0002-2145-4963
Pietroniro, Alain; University of Calgary; ORCID iD 0000-0001-5792-9177
Mai, Juliane; University of Waterloo; ORCID iD 0000-0002-1132-2342
Tolson, Bryan; University of Waterloo; ORCID iD 0000-0002-3092-5536
Shen, Hongren; University of Waterloo; ORCID iD 0000-0002-5979-2159
Craig, James R.; University of Waterloo; ORCID iD 0000-0003-2715-7166
Taheri, Mahkameh; University of Waterloo; ORCID iD 0000-0003-0604-5982
Keywords: hydrological model intercomparison
Prairie pothole
snow water equivalent
actual evapotranspiration
Model Intercomparison Project (MIP)
Field of Research: 
Earth and related environmental sciences
Physical and catchment hydrology
Publication Date: 2024-03-11
Publisher: Federated Research Data Repository / dépôt fédéré de données de recherche
Funder: Global Water Futures
Related Identifiers: 
Geographic Coverage: 
Place Name
Nelson-Churchill River Basin
Geolocation Box: 
West Longitude
East Longitude
North Latitude
South Latitude

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Access to this dataset is subject to the following terms:
Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)
Ahmed, M., Stadnyk, T., Pietroniro, A., Mai, J., Tolson, B., Shen, H., Craig, J., Taheri, M. (2024). Navigating Hydrological Model Intercomparison Projects in Cold Regions: Unveiling Challenges, Insights, and Future Paths – A Case from Nelson-MIP II. Federated Research Data Repository.