We performed an intercomparison of river discharge regulated by dams under four meteorological forcings among five global hydrological models for a historical period by simulation. This is the first global multimodel intercomparison study on dam-regulated river flow. Although the simulations were conducted globally, the Missouri-Mississippi and Green-Colorado Rivers were chosen as case-study sites in this study. The hydrological models incorporate generic schemes of dam operation, not specific to a certain dam. We examined river discharge on a longitudinal section of river channels to investigate the effects of dams on simulated discharge, especially at the seasonal time scale. We found that the magnitude of dam regulation differed considerably among the hydrological models. The difference was attributable not only to dam operation schemes but also to the magnitude of simulated river discharge flowing into dams. That is, although a similar algorithm of dam operation schemes was incorporated in different hydrological models, the magnitude of dam regulation substantially differed among the models. Intermodel discrepancies tended to decrease toward the lower reaches of these river basins, which means model dependence is less significant toward lower reaches. These case-study results imply that, intermodel comparisons of river discharge should be made at different locations along the river's course to critically examine the performance of hydrological models because the performance can vary with the locations.
|Journal||Environmental Research Letters|
|Publication status||Published - 2017|
- flood control
- flow regimes
- river discharge