Watershed hydrologic models often possess different structures and distinct methods and require dissimilar types of inputs. As spatially-distributed data are becoming widely available, macro-scale modeling plays an increasingly important role in water resources management. However, calibration of a macro-scale grid-based model can be a challenge. The objective of this study is to improve macro-scale hydrologic modeling by joint simulation and cross-calibration of different models. A joint modeling framework was developed, which linked a grid-based hydrologic model (GHM) and the subbasin-based Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) model. Particularly, a two-step cross-calibration procedure was proposed and implemented: (1) direct calibration of the subbasin-based SWAT model using observed streamflow data; and (2) indirect calibration of the grid-based GHM through the transfer of the well-calibrated SWAT simulations to the GHM. The joint GHM-SWAT modeling framework was applied to the Red River of the North Basin (RRB). The model performance was assessed using the Nash–Sutcliffe efficiency (NSE) and percent bias (PBIAS). The results highlighted the feasibility of the proposed cross-calibration strategy in taking advantage of both model structures to analyze the spatial/temporal trends of hydrologic variables. The modeling approaches developed in this study can be applied to other basins for macro-scale climatic-hydrologic modeling.

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