Reconciling Simulated Moisture Fluxes Resulting from Alternate Hydrologic Model Time Steps and Energy Budget Closure Assumptions
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Hydrological model predictions are sensitive to model forcings, input parameters, and the parameterizations of physical processes. Analyses performed for the Variable Infiltration Capacity model show that the resulting moisture fluxes are sensitive to the time step and energy balance closure assumptions. In addition, the model results are sensitive to the method of spatial and temporal disaggregation of precipitation. For parameter estimation purposes, it is desirable to do parameter searches in water balance mode (meaning that the effective surface temperature is assumed equal to the surface air temperature; hence no iteration for energy balance closure is performed) at daily time steps. However, transferring these parameters directly to other model modes (e.g., energy balance, in which an iteration for effective surface temperature is performed, and/or different model time steps) results in changes in the simulated moisture fluxes. The simulated differences in moisture fluxes are mainly a result of the parameterization of evapotranspiration at different time steps and model modes. A simple scheme that calculates correction factors for some model parameters is developed. The scheme is used to match simulated moisture fluxes in hourly and 3-hourly energy balance mode to the daily water balance simulation results, and to match hourly energy balance runs using spatially and temporally disaggregated precipitation to 3-hourly energy balance runs using uniformly disaggregated precipitation. For both approaches, the corrected simulations match the baseline simulations quite closely, both over transects across much of the continental United States and for test applications in the Ohio and Arkansas–Red River basins.