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Validating hydrological moderocess studies and internal data from research basins: tools for assessing hydrological impacts of environmental change.


To improve hydrological modelling approaches, through identifying model weaknesses in reproducing actual internal catchment processes as well as investigating parameter variability, and to progress in understanding hydrological processes, through improved field observation and issues arising from modelling queries and outputs. The long-term objective is to provide reliable tools for assessing the hydrological consequences of environmental change and defining the land and watershed management strategies necessary to preserve water quantity and quality.

A physically-based hydrological model (SHETRAN) and a parsimonious model (TOPMODEL)
will be validated and improved using data from small experimental catchments, including work
to ensure that the internal dynamics and processes of the catchments are properly represented.
Submodels for precipitation interception in
forests and for snow melting will be specially developed.
A new generation of field techniques, including TDR (Time Domain Reflectometry), GPR
(Ground Probing Radar) and GPS (Global Positioning System), are to be tested and used together
with other field experiments to obtain data for internal validation of subsurface hydrology in
small research catchments. The methodology for hydrological use of GPR at the hillslope and
small catchment scales (soil water content, soil water reserve and water table delineation) will
be developed through validation in a range of field conditions.
Joint field campaigns are to be performed in the Vallcebre catchments (Southeast Pyrenees), an
area with strong spatial and temporal heterogeneities in hydrological characteristics and process
operation. The purpose of these campaigns is not only to gather field data, but also to create the
best conditions for exchanging experience between researchers concerned with modelling and
those concentrating on field work. Identifying model deficiencies and guiding field observations
from model outputs is a primary objective of these campaigns. Other field campaigns, at a range
of experimental sites in Spain, the UK and Switzerland will be performed for specific purposes
(investigating the hydrological consequences of land use change, erosion processes, flow
generation and partitioning, snow melting). Data from Experimental Catchments in Germany will
be used to test models in other environmental conditions.
The issue of scale in hydrological modelling will be addressed as part of the project. The effects
of increasing DTM (Digital Terrain Model) resolution, compiled with detailed information
collected using GPS, will be investigated within the TOPMODEL framework. Algorithms will
be developed for the upscaling of model parameters in SHETRAN, and a new regional-scale
model TOPKAPI, will be developed and tested, thereby allowing the application of models
calibrated and validated in small basins to wider areas. Finally, the performance of the more
sophisticated models used in the project (SHETRAN, TOPMODEL, TOPKAPI) will be
compared with that of two commonly used water management models (SACRAMENTO and

Call for proposal

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EU contribution
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Participants (7)