Drought -- National Drought Mitigation Center


Date of this Version



Journal of Hydrology 555 (2017), pp. 535–546.


U.S. government work.


Improved understanding of the water balance in the Blue Nile is of critical importance because of increasingly frequent hydroclimatic extremes under a changing climate. The intercomparison and evaluation of multiple land surface models (LSMs) associated with different meteorological forcing and precipitation datasets can offer a moderate range of water budget variable estimates. In this context, two LSMs, Noah version 3.3 (Noah3.3) and Catchment LSM version Fortuna 2.5 (CLSMF2.5) coupled with the Hydrological Modeling and Analysis Platform (HyMAP) river routing scheme are used to produce hydrological estimates over the region. The two LSMs were forced with different combinations of two reanalysis-based meteorological datasets from the Modern-Era Retrospective analysis for Research and Applications datasets (i.e., MERRA-Land and MERRA-2) and three observation-based precipitation datasets, generating a total of 16 experiments. Modeled evapotranspiration (ET), streamflow, and terrestrial water storage estimates were evaluated against the Atmosphere-Land Exchange Inverse (ALEXI) ET, insitu streamflow observations, and NASA Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) products, respectively. Results show that CLSMF2.5 provided better representation of the water budget variables than Noah3.3 in terms of Nash-Sutcliffe coefficient when considering all meteorological forcing datasets and precipitation datasets. The model experiments forced with observation-based products, the Climate Hazards group Infrared Precipitation with Stations (CHIRPS) and the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) Multi-Satellite Precipitation Analysis (TMPA), outperform those run with MERRA-Land and MERRA-2 precipitation. The results presented in this paper would suggest that the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) Land Data Assimilation System incorporate CLSMF2.5 and HyMAP routing scheme to better represent the water balance in this region.