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Book Sections Year : 2006

Has basin-scale modelling advanced beyond empiricism?

La modélisation à l'échelle du bassin versant a-t-elle dépassé l'empirisme?

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Abstract

Due to the increasing availability of spatial representations of our environment, today there seems to be a growing feeling that hydrological modelling can eventually produce efficient distributed physically-based rainfall-runoff (RR) models. However, the improvement brought by such models is still to be demonstrated. Several authors have already sounded the alarm bell on the development and application of these models, apparently to no avail. In this paper, we argue that hydrological modelling has not gone far beyond an empirical view of the way basins transform rainfall into streamflow at their outlet. We address simple questions relative to (i) the unit physical object that should be represented by RR models, (ii) the actual limits of lumped RR models, (iii) the impact of the time step on the structure of RR models, (iv) the necessity of a priori conceptualization in the design of RR model structures, and last (v) what defines a good model. We are convinced that, up to now, the empirical modelling approach has not been studied with the rigour that would help to discriminate between the numerous mathematical tools at the hydrologist's disposal to build model structures. Thus, the purpose of this paper is to recall that before considering complex models, a lot remains to be done in the area of simple lumped models.
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Dates and versions

hal-02588690 , version 1 (15-05-2020)

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C. Michel, Charles Perrin, Vazken Andréassian, L. Oudin, T. Mathevet. Has basin-scale modelling advanced beyond empiricism?. Large Sample Basin Experiments for Hydrological Model Parameterization: Results of the Model Parameter Experiment MOPEX. IAHS Publ. 307, AISH, pp.108-116, 2006. ⟨hal-02588690⟩
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