How evaluation of global hydrological models can help to improve credibility of river discharge projections under climate change

Valentina Krysanova, Jamal Zaherpour, Iulii Didovets, Simon N. Gosling, Dieter Gerten, Naota Hanasaki, Hannes Müller Schmied, Yadu Pokhrel, Yusuke Satoh, Qiuhong Tang, Yoshihide Wada

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Importance of evaluation of global hydrological models (gHMs) before doing climate impact assessment was underlined in several studies. The main objective of this study is to evaluate the performance of six gHMs in simulating observed discharge for a set of 57 large catchments applying common metrics with thresholds for the monthly and seasonal dynamics and summarize them estimating an aggregated index of model performance for each model in each basin. One model showed a good performance, and other five showed a weak or poor performance in most of the basins. In 15 catchments, evaluation results of all models were poor. The model evaluation was supplemented by climate impact assessment for a subset of 12 representative catchments using (1) usual ensemble mean approach and (2) weighted mean approach based on model performance, and the outcomes were compared. The comparison of impacts in terms of mean monthly and mean annual discharges using two approaches has shown that in four basins, differences were negligible or small, and in eight catchments, differences in mean monthly, mean annual discharge or both were moderate to large. The spreads were notably decreased in most cases when the second method was applied. It can be concluded that for improving credibility of projections, the model evaluation and application of the weighted mean approach could be recommended, especially if the mean monthly (seasonal) impacts are of interest, whereas the ensemble mean approach could be applied for projecting the mean annual changes. The calibration of gHMs could improve their performance and, consequently, the credibility of projections.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1353-1377
Number of pages25
JournalClimatic Change
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Atmospheric Science


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