Estimation of predictive hydrologic uncertainty using the quantile regression and UNEEC methods and their comparison on contrasting catchments

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Dogulu N., Lopez P. L., Solomatine D. P., Weerts A. H., Shrestha D. L.

HYDROLOGY AND EARTH SYSTEM SCIENCES, vol.19, no.7, pp.3181-3201, 2015 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 19 Issue: 7
  • Publication Date: 2015
  • Doi Number: 10.5194/hess-19-3181-2015
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.3181-3201
  • Middle East Technical University Affiliated: No


In operational hydrology, estimation of the predictive uncertainty of hydrological models used for flood modelling is essential for risk-based decision making for flood warning and emergency management. In the literature, there exists a variety of methods analysing and predicting uncertainty. However, studies devoted to comparing the performance of the methods in predicting uncertainty are limited. This paper focuses on the methods predicting model residual uncertainty that differ in methodological complexity: quantile regression (QR) and UNcertainty Estimation based on local Errors and Clustering (UNEEC). The comparison of the methods is aimed at investigating how well a simpler method using fewer input data performs over a more complex method with more predictors. We test these two methods on several catchments from the UK that vary in hydrological characteristics and the models used. Special attention is given to the methods' performance under different hydrological conditions. Furthermore, normality of model residuals in data clusters (identified by UNEEC) is analysed. It is found that basin lag time and forecast lead time have a large impact on the quantification of uncertainty and the presence of normality in model residuals' distribution. In general, it can be said that both methods give similar results. At the same time, it is also shown that the UNEEC method provides better performance than QR for small catchments with the changing hydrological dynamics, i.e. rapid response catchments. It is recommended that more case studies of catchments of distinct hydrologic behaviour, with diverse climatic conditions, and having various hydrological features, be considered.