Science Inventory

Modeled Watershed Runoff Associated with Variations in Precipitation Data, with Implications for Contaminant Fluxes: Initial Results


GOLDEN, H. E., C. D. KNIGHTES, E. COOTER, AND R. L. DENNIS. Modeled Watershed Runoff Associated with Variations in Precipitation Data, with Implications for Contaminant Fluxes: Initial Results. In Proceedings, Planning for an Uncertain Future—Monitoring, Integration, and Adaptation. Third Interagency Conference on Research in the Watersheds, Estes Park, CO, September 08 - 11, 2008. United States Geological Survey, Denver, CO, 129-135, (2009).


The findings presented here are initial assessments and begin to advance current understanding of the relationships between the spatial variability and sources of precipitation estimates and accuracy of simulated runoff, particularly related to linking air quality and watershed fate and transport models.


Precipitation is one of the primary forcing functions of hydrologic and watershed fate and transport models; however, in light of advances in precipitation estimates across watersheds, data remain highly uncertain. A wide variety of simulated and observed precipitation data are available for use in regional air quality models and watershed fate and transport models. Although these single media models can potentially link together to estimate contaminant loadings issuing from watersheds, questions remain concerning how precipitation data from diverse sources used within each model affect water and contaminant mass balances. We assess how two sets of spatially distributed precipitation data, simulated at 12km grid and 36km grid resolutions, affect runoff simulated from a spatially distributed grid-based mercury watershed model that has been calibrated using observed precipitation data. We focus on two headwater catchments in the Cape Fear River Basin, North Carolina. Our initial results suggest that precipitation data simulated at a coarse resolution (e.g., 36km grid) decreases the efficiency and goodness-of-fit of modeled runoff, but this is watershed specific. Variations in the response to coarse resolution precipitation potentially results from differences in the size and within stream structural modifications of each watershed. These initial results are assessed within the context a broader project that will also evaluate the effects of radar and empirically-estimated precipitation data sets on modeled runoff and variations in watershed contaminant loading resulting from these diverse precipitation inputs.

Record Details:

Product Published Date: 10/15/2009
Record Last Revised: 10/27/2009
OMB Category: Other
Record ID: 199007