The influence of the calibration metric on design flood estimation using continuous simulation

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Journal Article
International Journal of River Basin Management, 2017, 15 (1), pp. 9 - 20
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© 2016 International Association for Hydro-Environment Engineering and Research. Estimation of design flood flow has been and remains a concern for both hydrologic research and hydrologic practice. Knowledge of design flood flows provides a basis for sustainable flood management, which has the aim of reducing flood risk, thereby protecting people’s lives and property. Design floods for a given location can be estimated by a number of approaches including analysis of past flood statistics and the use of catchment modelling. When catchment modelling approaches are applied estimation of design flood flows, there is a need to calibrate the model parameters. As part of this calibration process, a calibration metric, or fitness measure, is needed to enable assessment of alternative sets of parameter values. Presented herein is an investigation into design flood quantiles derived from predictions obtained from a continuous catchment modelling system when alternative calibration metrics are used to assess the suitability of parameter values. Two alternative calibration metrics are considered with one calibration metric aimed at ensuring replication of recorded hydrographs and the second calibration metric aimed at ensuring replication of the statistical characteristics of the annual maxima series. It was found that use of the later calibration metric resulted in better reproduction of the flood probability model estimated from the historical data while reproduction of the recorded hydrographs (i.e. the first calibration metric) did not ensure reproduction of the flood probability model.
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