To Grid or Not to Grid… Precipitation Data and Hydrological Modeling in the Khangai Mountain Region of Mongolia

Friday, 19 December 2014: 11:35 AM
Niah B. H. Venable1, Steven R Fassnacht1 and G. Adyabadam2, (1)Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, United States, (2)Mongolian Institute of Meteorology, Hydrology, and the Environment, Ulaanbataar, Mongolia
Precipitation data in semi-arid and mountainous regions is often spatially and temporally sparse, yet it is a key variable needed to drive hydrological models. Gridded precipitation datasets provide a spatially and temporally coherent alternative to the use of point-based station data, but in the case of Mongolia, may not be constructed from all data available from government data sources, or may only be available at coarse resolutions. To examine the uncertainty associated with the use of gridded and/or point precipitation data, monthly water balance models of three river basins across forest steppe (the Khoid Tamir River at Ikhtamir), steppe (the Baidrag River at Bayanburd), and desert steppe (the Tuin River at Bogd) ecozones in the Khangai Mountain Region of Mongolia were compared. The models were forced over a 10-year period from 2001-2010, with gridded temperature and precipitation data at a 0.5 x 0.5 degree resolution. These results were compared to modeling using an interpolated hybrid of the gridded data and additional point data recently gathered from government sources; and with point data from the nearest meteorological station to the streamflow gage of choice. Goodness-of-fit measures including the Nash-Sutcliff Efficiency statistic, the percent bias, and the RMSE-observations standard deviation ratio were used to assess model performance. The results were mixed with smaller differences between the two gridded products as compared to the differences between gridded products and station data. The largest differences in precipitation inputs and modeled runoff amounts occurred between the two gridded datasets and station data in the desert steppe (Tuin), and the smallest differences occurred in the forest steppe (Khoid Tamir) and steppe (Baidrag). Mean differences between water balance model results are generally smaller than mean differences in the initial input data over the period of record. Seasonally, larger differences in gridded versus station-based precipitation products and modeled outputs occur in summer in the desert-steppe, and in spring in the forest steppe. Choice of precipitation data source in terms of gridded or point-based data directly affects model outcomes with greater uncertainty noted on a seasonal basis across ecozones of the Khangai.