On the importance of soil moisture in calibration of rainfall–runoff models: two case studies

Mahshid Shahrban, Jeffrey P. Walker, Q. J. Wang, David E. Robertson

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Streamflow modelling results from the GR4H and PDM hydrological models were evaluated in two Australian sub-catchments, using (1) calibration to streamflow and (2) joint-calibration to streamflow and soil moisture. Soil moisture storage in the models was evaluated against soil moisture observations from field measurements. The PDM had the best performance in terms of both streamflow and soil moisture estimations during the calibration period, but was outperformed by GR4H during validation. It was also shown that the soil moisture estimation was improved significantly by joint-calibration for the case where streamflow and soil moisture estimations were poor. In other cases, addition of the soil moisture constraint did not degrade the results. Consequently, it is recommended that GR4H be used, in preference to the PDM, in the foothills of the Murrumbidgee catchment or other Australian catchments with semi-arid to sub-humid climate, and that soil moisture data be used in the calibration process.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1292-1312
Number of pages21
JournalHydrological Sciences Journal
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jul 2018


  • hydrological models
  • joint-calibration
  • soil moisture observations
  • streamflow modelling

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