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Looking at catchments in colors: why not? But what if we can not even look at them?

Abstract : The real-time vision of a large portion of French rivers is not a coloured one, not even a black and white, but a blind one, du to the large number of basins which are not monitored. The event of June 2010 in Southern France, where 25 people died during the flood of the Nartuby and Argens rivers gives a dramatic example of this blind vision. In such a context a simple insight, aiming at providing flood alerts rather than pretending to represent exactly the physical process at stake in the catchment, seems welcomed. The aim of this study is to assess the ability of a simple conceptual and parsimonious rainfall-runoff model to deliver flood alerts in ungauged catchments. We use a downward approach: the model is calibrated on gauged catchments and its performances are checked on nested catchments which are not used for the calibration. The model is calibrated over 20 catchments of southern France with areas ranging from 150 km² to 2170 km². The rainfall information is provided by a radar network at an hourly time-step for 15 events that have occurred between 2005 and 2008. The "ungauged" catchments used for the model evaluation are 47 nested basins located within the 20 calibration catchments. We derive the model parameters for these ungauged catchments, from the gauged ones. The model used belongs to the GR models family developed at the Cemagref institute. It works on en event basis thank to a production parameter S and two routing parameters: a shape parameter B and a lag parameter C. Our knowledge of the production parameter benefits from a previous regionalisation work based on several characteristics of the catchments such as the description of their drainage network, the ground-water typology and a climatic variable. The model calibration rests upon the production parameter only. We implement two versions of the model: a lumped one and a distributed one. The results of this downward approach show that the model tested here is able to deliver successful flood alerts in ungauged areas. The distributed version performs slightly better than the lumped version. This study also show that fully distributing the routing parameters results in better alerts than using uniform routing parameters in the distributed version. To fully assess the performance of the model, further evaluation should be carried out in an operational mode, i.e. using an initialisation procedure to determine the value of the S parameter at the beginning of each event instead of using a calibrated value. We anticipate this study by checking how well the calibrated S correlate with the parameter of a continuous soil moisture accounting model run at a daily time-step. The correlation being better in the case of the distributed version of the model, this version seems hence quite promising for an operational use.
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Déposant : Migration Irstea Publications <>
Soumis le : samedi 16 mai 2020 - 11:35:39
Dernière modification le : lundi 25 mai 2020 - 23:24:05


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  • HAL Id : hal-02605900, version 1
  • IRSTEA : PUB00053580



C. Fouchier, P. Javelle, P. Arnaud, Dimitri Defrance. Looking at catchments in colors: why not? But what if we can not even look at them?. EGU Leonardo Topical Conference on the hydrological cycle “Looking at Catchments in Colors, Nov 2010, Luxembourg, Luxembourg. pp.1, 2010. ⟨hal-02605900⟩



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