Comparison of daily and sub-daily SWAT models for daily streamflow simulation in the Upper Huai River Basin of China

Xiaoying Yang (Lead Author), Qun Liu, Yi He, Xingzhang Luo, Xiaoxiang Zhang

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Despite the significant role of precipitation in the hydrological cycle, few studies have been conducted to evaluate the impacts of the temporal resolution of rainfall inputs on the performance of SWAT (soil and water assessment tool) models in large-sized river basins. In this study, both daily and hourly rainfall observations at 28 rainfall stations were used as inputs to SWAT for daily streamflow simulation in the Upper Huai River Basin. Study results have demonstrated that the SWAT model with hourly rainfall inputs performed better than the model with daily rainfall inputs in daily streamflow simulation, primarily due to its better capability of simulating peak flows during the flood
season. The sub-daily SWAT model estimated that 58% of streamflow was contributed by baseflow compared to 34 % estimated by the daily model. Using the future daily and three-hour precipitation projections under the RCP (Representative Concentration Pathways) 4.5 scenario as inputs, the sub-daily SWAT model predicted a larger amount of monthly maximum daily flow during the wet years than the daily model. The differences between the daily and sub-daily SWAT model simulation results indicated that temporal rainfall resolution could have much impact on the simulation of hydrological process, streamflow, and consequently pollutant transport by SWAT models. There is an imperative need for more studies to examine the effects of temporal rainfall resolution on the simulation of hydrological and water pollutant transport processes by SWAT in river basins of different environmental conditions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)959-972
JournalStochastic Environmental Research and Risk Assessment
Issue number3
Early online date17 Jun 2015
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2016


  • daily streamflow
  • hourly rainfall
  • regional downscaling
  • Huai River
  • SWAT

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