Influence of Scale on SWAT Model Calibration for Streamflow in a River Basin in the Humid Tropics
Abstract The Soil Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) was applied to the 2,530 km2 Chaliyar river basin in Kerala, India to investigate the influence of scale on the model parameters. The study was carried out in this river basin at two scales. Parameters such as land use, soil type, topography and management practices are similar at these scales. The model was initially calibrated for streamflow and then validated. Critical parameters were the curve number (CN2), soil evaporation compensation factor (ESCO), available water holding capacity (SOL_AWC), average slope length (SLSUBBSN), and base flow alpha factor (ALPHA_BF). Using the optimized value of various parameters, stream flow was estimated from parts of the basin at two different scales—an area of 2,361.58 km2 and an area of 1,013.15 km2. The streamflow estimates at both these scales were statistically analysed by computing the coefficient of determination (R 2) and the Nash–Sutcliffe efficiency (ENS). Results indicate that the SWAT model could simulate streamflow at both scales reasonably well with very little difference between the observed and computed values. However, the results also indicate that there may be greater uncertainty in SWAT streamflow estimates as the size of the watershed increases.