Peatlands occupy around 13% of the land cover of Canada, and thus they play a key role in the water balance at high latitudes. They are well known for having substantial water loss due to evapotranspiration. Since measurements of evapotranspiration are scarce over these environments, hydrologists generally rely on models of varying complexity to evaluate these water exchanges in the global watershed balance. This study quantifies the water budget of a small boreal peatland-dominated watershed. We assess the performance of three evapotranspiration models in comparison with in situ observations and the impact of using these models in the hydrological modeling of the watershed. The study site (∼1 km2) is located in the eastern James Bay lowlands, Québec, Canada. During summer 2012, an eddy flux tower measured evapotranspiration continuously, while a trapezoidal flume monitored streamflow at the watershed outlet. We estimated evapotranspiration with a combinational model (Penman), a radiation-based model (Priestley–Taylor), and a temperature-based model (Hydro-Québec), and performed the hydrological modeling of the watershed with HYDROTEL, a physically based semi-distributed model. Our results show that the Penman and Priestley–Taylor models reproduce the observations with the highest precision, while a substantial drop in performance occurs with the Hydro-Québec model. However, these discrepancies did not appear to reduce the hydrological model efficiency, at least from what can be concluded from a 3-month modeling period. HYDROTEL appears sensitive to evapotranspiration inputs, but calibration of model parameters can compensate for the differences. These findings still need to be confirmed with longer modeling periods.
Water budget, performance of evapotranspiration formulations, and their impact on hydrological modeling of a small boreal peatland-dominated watershed
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Pierre-Erik Isabelle, Daniel F. Nadeau, Alain N. Rousseau, François Anctil; Water budget, performance of evapotranspiration formulations, and their impact on hydrological modeling of a small boreal peatland-dominated watershed. Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences ; 55 (2): 206–220. doi: https://doi.org/10.1139/cjes-2017-0046
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