Improvements of Physically-Based Hydrological Modelling using the ACRU Agro-Hydrological Modelling System

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Charmaine Bonifacio, Stefan Werner Kienzle, Wei Xu and John Zhang, University of Lethbridge, Lethbridge, AB, Canada
The uncertainty of future water availability due to climate change in the Upper Oldman River Basin in Alberta, Canada, and downstream users is considered in this study. A changing climate can significantly perturb hydrological response within a region, thereby affecting the available water resources within southern Alberta. The ACRU agro-hydrological modelling system is applied to simulate historical (1950-2010) and future (2041-2070) streamflows and volumes of a major irrigation reservoir. Like many highly complex, process-based distributed models, major limitations include the data availability and data quality at finer spatial resolutions. With the use of a scripting language, certain limitations can be greatly reduced. Three phases of the project will be emphasized. First, the assimilation of solar radiation, relative humidity, sunshine hours and wind speed daily data into the Canadian 10KM daily climate data that contains daily precipitation, maximum and minimum temperature data for the period 1950-2010, so as to enable potential evapotranspiration calculations using the Penman-Monteith equation. Second, the downscaling of five regional climate model (RCM) data to match the 10KM spatial resolution was undertaken. Third, a total of 1722 hydrological response units (HRUs) were delineated within the 4403 km2 large upper Oldman River Basin. In all phases of model input data parameterization and calibration, the automation of known external procedures greatly decreased erroneous model inputs and increased the efficiency of validating the quality of input data to be used within the ACRU model.