An eleven-year validation of a physically-based distributed dynamic ecohydorological model tRIBS+VEGGIE: Walnut Gulch Experimental Watershed
Sivandran, G.; Bisht, G.; Ivanov, V. Y.; Bras, R. L.
A coupled, dynamic vegetation and hydrologic model, tRIBS+VEGGIE, was applied to the semiarid Walnut Gulch Experimental Watershed in Arizona. The physically-based, distributed nature of the coupled model allows for parameterization and simulation of watershed vegetation-water-energy dynamics on timescales varying from hourly to interannual. The model also allows for explicit spatial representation of processes that vary due to complex topography, such as lateral redistribution of moisture and partitioning of radiation with respect to aspect and slope. Model parameterization and forcing was conducted using readily available databases for topography, soil types, and land use cover as well as the data from network of meteorological stations located within the Walnut Gulch watershed. In order to test the performance of the model, three sets of simulations were conducted over an 11 year period from 1997 to 2007. Two simulations focus on heavily instrumented nested watersheds within the Walnut Gulch basin; (i) Kendall watershed, which is dominated by annual grasses; and (ii) Lucky Hills watershed, which is dominated by a mixture of deciduous and evergreen shrubs. The third set of simulations cover the entire Walnut Gulch Watershed. Model validation and performance were evaluated in relation to three broad categories; (i) energy balance components: the network of meteorological stations were used to validate the key energy fluxes; (ii) water balance components: the network of flumes, rain gauges and soil moisture stations installed within the watershed were utilized to validate the manner in which the model partitions moisture; and (iii) vegetation dynamics: remote sensing products from MODIS were used to validate spatial and temporal vegetation dynamics. Model results demonstrate satisfactory spatial and temporal agreement with observed data, giving confidence that key ecohydrological processes can be adequately represented for future applications of tRIBS+VEGGIE in regional modeling of land-atmosphere interactions.