Abstract

Hydrological data scarcity and uncertainty is a fundamental challenge in hydrology, particularly in places with weak or declining investment in hydrometric networks. It is well established that fully distributed hydrological models can provide robust estimation of flows at ungauged locations, through local calibration and regionalisation using spatial datasets of physical properties. Even in situations where data are abundant, the existence of inconsistent information is not uncommon. The measurement, estimation or interpolation of rainfall, potential evapotranspiration and flow as well as the difficulty in monitoring artificial influences are all sources of potential inconsistency. Less studied but as important, distributed hydrological models, given their capability of capturing both the temporal and spatial dimensions of the water balance and runoff generation, are suitable tools to identify potential deficiencies in, and reliability of, input data. Three heavily modified catchments in the East of England such as the Ely Ouse, the Witham, and the Black Sluice have been considered, all of which have issues of data scarcity and uncertainty. This paper demonstrates not only the benefits of fully distributed modelling in addressing data availability issues but also in its use as a catchment-wide data validation tool that serves to maximise the potential of limited data and contributes to improved basin representation.

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