Simulation of semi-arid hydrological processes at different spatial resolutions using the AgroEcoSystem-Watershed (AgES-W) model

Friday, 18 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
Timothy R Green1, Robert H Erksine1, Olaf David2, James C. Ascough II1, Holm Kipka2, Wes J Lloyd2 and Gregory S McMaster1, (1)USDA-ARS, Fort Collins, CO, United States, (2)Colorado State University, Fort Collins, United States
Water movement and storage within a watershed may be simulated at different spatial resolutions of land areas or hydrological response units (HRUs). Here, effects of HRU size on simulated soil water and surface runoff are tested using the AgroEcoSystem-Watershed (AgES-W) model with three different resolutions of HRUs. We studied a 56-ha agricultural watershed in northern Colorado, USA farmed primarily under a wheat-fallow rotation. The delineation algorithm was based upon topography (surface flow paths), land use (crop management strips and native grass), and mapped soil units (three types), which produced HRUs that follow the land use and soil boundaries. AgES-W model parameters that control surface and subsurface hydrology were calibrated using simulated daily soil moisture at different landscape positions and depths where soil moisture was measured hourly and averaged up to daily values. Parameter sets were both uniform and spatially variable with depth and across the watershed (5 different calibration approaches). Although forward simulations were computationally efficient (less than 1 minute each), each calibration required thousands of model runs. Execution of such large jobs was facilitated by using the Object Modeling System with the Cloud Services Innovation Platform to manage four virtual machines on a commercial web service configured with a total of 64 computational cores and 120 GB of memory. Results show how spatially distributed and averaged soil moisture and runoff at the outlet vary with different HRU delineations. The results will help guide HRU delineation, spatial resolution and parameter estimation methods for improved hydrological simulations in this and other semi-arid agricultural watersheds.