Les modèles hydrologiques conceptuelssont-ils robustes face à un climat en évolution ? Diagnostic sur un échantillon de bassins versants français et australiens

Abstract : Hydrologists are asked to estimate the medium- and long-term evolutions of water resources. To answer these questions, they commonly use conceptual models. In addition, they are often required to provide an estimate of the uncertainties associated with model projections. This raises the question of the robustness of conceptual models, especially in the context of climate evolution. Indeed, using a model in conditions different from those of calibration is based on the hypothesis of parameter transferability, i.e. the possibility to use model parameters in conditions different from those used for the model set-up. We focus on this issue with the aim of answering the following questions:• What is the robustness level of conceptual hydrological models in the context of changing climatic conditions?• What are the causes for the lack of robustness, and are there ways to prevent it?We answer these questions by studying the performance of conceptual models through multiple tests of temporal transfer of their parameters. Results show the existence of correlations between the robustness problems and the difference in climate conditions between model calibration and validation periods. The analysis especially points out the situations of systematic bias correlated to differences in air temperature. However, results are heterogeneous in our catchment set, and climate variables or error type associated with the identified problems vary between catchments.The analysis of simulation biases on catchments where the models are not robust shows alternating phases of flow under- or overestimation, with a possible bias in the mean flow up to 20% over a ten-year period.Our work reveals that very similar results can be obtained for various periods or calibration methods. The robustness issues faced by conceptual models used in this study do not solely stem from inadequate calibrations leading to the selection of parameters unable reproduce the catchment behavior. They seem to be the consequence of overall difficulties for models to satisfactorily simulate water balances simultaneously on various periods.This work opens reflections on the limited capacity of some hydrological models to reproduce low-frequency dynamics and raises questions on the role of inputs estimates errors in model failures, especially the temporal variations of evapotranspiration.
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Laurent Coron. Les modèles hydrologiques conceptuelssont-ils robustes face à un climat en évolution ? Diagnostic sur un échantillon de bassins versants français et australiens. Sciences de la Terre. AgroParisTech, 2013. Français. ⟨NNT : 2013AGPT0030⟩. ⟨pastel-00879090⟩

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