Spatial sensitivity analysis of simulated land surface patterns in a catchment model using a set of innovative spatial performance metrics

Julian Koch, Gorka Mendiguren, Gregoire Mariethoz, Simon Stisen

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftArtikelForskningpeer review

20 Citationer (Scopus)


Distributed hydrological models simulate states and fluxes of water and energy in the terrestrial hydrosphere at each cell. The predicted spatial patterns result from complex nonlinear relationships and feedbacks. Spatial patterns are often neglected during the modeling process, and therefore a spatial sensitivity analysis framework that highlights their importance is proposed. This study features a comprehensive analysis of spatial patterns of actual evapotranspiration (ET) and land surface temperature (LST), with the aim of quantifying the extent to which forcing data and model parameters drive these patterns. This framework is applied on a distributed model [MIKE Système Hydrologique Européen (MIKE SHE)] coupled to a land surface model [Shuttleworth and Wallace-Evapotranspiration (SW-ET)] of a catchment in Denmark. Twenty-two scenarios are defined, each having a simplified representation of a potential driver of spatial variability. A baseline model that incorporates full spatial detail is used to assess sensitivity. High sensitivity can be attested in scenarios where the simulated spatial patterns differ significantly from the baseline. The core novelty of this study is that the analysis is based on a set of innovative spatial performance metrics that enable a reliable spatial pattern comparison. Overall, LST is very sensitive to air temperature and wind speed whereas ET is rather driven by vegetation. Both are sensitive to groundwater coupling and precipitation. The conclusions may be limited to the selected catchment and to the applied modeling system, but the suggested framework is generically relevant for the modeling community. While the applied metrics focus on specific spatial information, they partly exhibit redundant information. Thus, a combination of metrics is the ideal approach to evaluate spatial patterns in models output.

Sider (fra-til)1121-1142
Antal sider22
TidsskriftJournal of Hydrometeorology
Udgave nummer4
StatusUdgivet - 1 apr. 2017


  • Programområde 2: Vandressourcer


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