Transferability of a lumped hydrologic model, the Xin’anjiang model based on similarity in climate and geography

Hydrological experiments are essential to understanding the hydrological cycles and promoting the development of hydrologic models. Model parameter transfers provide a new way of doing hydrological forecasts and simulations in ungauged catchments. To study the transferability of model parameters for hydrological modelling and the influence of parameter transfers on hydrological simulations, the Xin’anjiang model (XAJ model), which is a lumped hydrologic model based on a saturation excess mechanism that has been widely applied in different climate regions of the world, was applied to a low hilly catchment in eastern China, the Chengxi Experimental Watershed (CXEW). The suitability of the XAJ model was tested in the eastern branch catchment of CXEW and the calibrated model parameters of the eastern branch catchment were then transferred to the western branch catchment and the entire watershed of the CXEW. The results show that the XAJ model performs well for the calibrated eastern branch catchment at both daily and monthly scales on hydrological modelling with the NSEs over 0.6 and the REs less than 2.0%. Besides, the uncalibrated catchments of the western branch catchment and the entire watershed of the CSEW share similarities in climate (the precipitation) and geography (the soil texture and vegetation cover) with the calibrated catchment, the XAJ model and the transferred model parameters can capture the main features of the hydrological processes in both uncalibrated catchments (western catchments and the entire watershed). This transferability of the model is useful for a scarce data region to simulate the hydrological process and its forecasting.