A framework for improving water resources data using hydraulic modelling

Project leader


Funding source

Formas - The Swedish Research Council for Environment, Agricultural Sciences and Spatial Planning

Project Details

Start date: 01/02/2016
End date: 01/02/2020
Funding: 3000000 SEK


Water resources are threatened by human-induced changes such as pollution, climate change and over-exploitation. Reliable information about streamflow (discharge) is needed to manage these resources sustainably for essential societal applications such as flood defence and water supply. However, discharge data uncertainty fundamentally limits our possibilities to draw robust conclusions about present and future hydrological behaviour. Discharge is normally calculated from water depth (stage) in the river channel using empirical models called rating curves. The rating curve is inferred from infrequent stage-discharge measurements, and uncertainties in its derivation translate directly into uncertainty about water resources. We hypothesise that physically-based hydraulic modelling can be used to efficiently and reliably constrain rating curve uncertainty across flow ranges - thereby improving the reliability of water resources data. We will develop a novel and innovative uncertainty framework to test this hypothesis that accounts for all relevant uncertainties in the measurements and model formulation, and that enables uncertainty propagation to water resource estimates. The framework will be tested across five catchments with different hydrological behaviour, data availability and quality in Sweden, UK, Costa Rica and Ethiopia. Initial results indicate large potential for improving the reliabilility of flood frequency estimates, water balance assessments, and flow indices.

External Partners

Last updated on 2017-07-08 at 08:18