Evaluation of Regional-Scale River Depth Simulations Using Various Routing Schemes within a Hydrometeorological Modeling Framework for the Preparation of the SWOT Mission

Vincent Häfliger * CNRM-GAME, UMR 3589, Météo-France, CNRS, Toulouse, France
Centre National d’Études Spatiales, Toulouse, France

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Eric Martin * CNRM-GAME, UMR 3589, Météo-France, CNRS, Toulouse, France

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Aaron Boone * CNRM-GAME, UMR 3589, Météo-France, CNRS, Toulouse, France

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Florence Habets UMR 7619 METIS, CNRS, UPMC, Paris, France

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Cédric H. David Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California

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Pierre-A. Garambois Université de Toulouse, INPT, UPS, Institut de Mécanique des Fluides de Toulouse, Toulouse, France

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Hélène Roux Université de Toulouse, INPT, UPS, Institut de Mécanique des Fluides de Toulouse, Toulouse, France

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Sophie Ricci ** CERFACS-URA 1875, Toulouse, France

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Lucie Berthon ** CERFACS-URA 1875, Toulouse, France

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Anthony Thévenin ** CERFACS-URA 1875, Toulouse, France

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Sylvain Biancamaria CNRS, LEGOS, UMR 5566-CNRS-CNES-IRD-Université Toulouse III, Toulouse, France

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Abstract

The Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) mission will provide free water surface elevations, slopes, and river widths for rivers wider than 50 m. Models must be prepared to use this new finescale information by explicitly simulating the link between runoff and the river channel hydraulics. This study assesses one regional hydrometeorological model’s ability to simulate river depths. The Garonne catchment in southwestern France (56 000 km2) has been chosen for the availability of operational gauges in the river network and finescale hydraulic models over two reaches of the river. Several routing schemes, ranging from the simple Muskingum method to time-variable parameter kinematic and diffusive waves schemes, are tested. The results show that the variable flow velocity schemes are advantageous for discharge computations when compared to the original Muskingum routing method. Additionally, comparisons between river depth computations and in situ observations in the downstream Garonne River led to root-mean-square errors of 50–60 cm in the improved Muskingum method and 40–50 cm in the kinematic–diffusive wave method. The results also highlight SWOT’s potential to improve the characterization of hydrological processes for subbasins larger than 10 000 km2, the importance of an accurate digital elevation model, and the need for spatially varying hydraulic parameters.

Corresponding author address: Vincent Häfliger, CNRM-GAME, UMR 3589, Météo-France, CNRS, 42 av. Gaspard Coriolis, 31057 Toulouse, France. E-mail: vincent.haefliger@yahoo.fr

Abstract

The Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) mission will provide free water surface elevations, slopes, and river widths for rivers wider than 50 m. Models must be prepared to use this new finescale information by explicitly simulating the link between runoff and the river channel hydraulics. This study assesses one regional hydrometeorological model’s ability to simulate river depths. The Garonne catchment in southwestern France (56 000 km2) has been chosen for the availability of operational gauges in the river network and finescale hydraulic models over two reaches of the river. Several routing schemes, ranging from the simple Muskingum method to time-variable parameter kinematic and diffusive waves schemes, are tested. The results show that the variable flow velocity schemes are advantageous for discharge computations when compared to the original Muskingum routing method. Additionally, comparisons between river depth computations and in situ observations in the downstream Garonne River led to root-mean-square errors of 50–60 cm in the improved Muskingum method and 40–50 cm in the kinematic–diffusive wave method. The results also highlight SWOT’s potential to improve the characterization of hydrological processes for subbasins larger than 10 000 km2, the importance of an accurate digital elevation model, and the need for spatially varying hydraulic parameters.

Corresponding author address: Vincent Häfliger, CNRM-GAME, UMR 3589, Météo-France, CNRS, 42 av. Gaspard Coriolis, 31057 Toulouse, France. E-mail: vincent.haefliger@yahoo.fr
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