Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-2024-864
https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-2024-864
02 Apr 2024
 | 02 Apr 2024
Status: this preprint is open for discussion.

HESS Opinions: A few camels or a whole caravan?

Franziska Maria Clerc-Schwarzenbach, Giovanni Selleri, Mattia Neri, Elena Toth, Ilja van Meerveld, and Jan Seibert

Abstract. Large-sample datasets containing hydrometeorological time series and catchment attributes for hundreds of catchments in a country, many of them known as “Camels” (catchment attributes and meteorology for large-sample studies), have revolutionized hydrological modelling and enabled comparative analyses. The Caravan dataset is a compilation of several (“Camels” and other) large-sample datasets with uniform attribute names and data structure. This simplifies large-sample hydrology across regions, continents, or the globe. However, the use of the Caravan dataset instead of the original Camels or other large-sample datasets may affect model results and the conclusions derived thereof. For the Caravan dataset, the meteorological forcing data are based on ERA5-Land reanalysis data. Here, we describe the differences between the original precipitation, temperature, and potential evapotranspiration (Epot) data for 1252 catchments in the CAMELS-US, CAMELS-BR, and CAMELS-GB datasets and the forcing data for these catchments in the Caravan dataset. The Epot in the Caravan dataset is unrealistically high for many catchments but there are, not surprisingly, also considerable differences in the precipitation data. We show that the use of the forcing data from the Caravan dataset impairs hydrological model calibration for the vast majority of catchments, i.e., there is a drop in the calibration performance when using the forcing data from the Caravan dataset compared to the original Camels datasets. This drop is mainly due to the differences in the precipitation data. Therefore, we suggest extending the Caravan dataset with the forcing data included in the original Camels datasets wherever possible, so that users can choose which forcing data they want to use, or at least indicating clearly that the forcing data in Caravan come with a data quality loss and using the original datasets is recommended. Moreover, we suggest not using the Epot data (and derived catchment attributes, such as the aridity index) from the Caravan dataset and replacing these with (or based on) alternative Epot estimates.

Franziska Maria Clerc-Schwarzenbach, Giovanni Selleri, Mattia Neri, Elena Toth, Ilja van Meerveld, and Jan Seibert

Status: open (until 28 May 2024)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
Franziska Maria Clerc-Schwarzenbach, Giovanni Selleri, Mattia Neri, Elena Toth, Ilja van Meerveld, and Jan Seibert

Model code and software

HESS Opinions: A few camels or a whole caravan? Franziska M. Clerc-Schwarzenbach https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.10784701

Franziska Maria Clerc-Schwarzenbach, Giovanni Selleri, Mattia Neri, Elena Toth, Ilja van Meerveld, and Jan Seibert

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Short summary
We compare the catchment forcing data provided in large-sample datasets, namely the Caravan dataset and three of the original CAMELS datasets (US, BR, GB). We show that the differences affect hydrological model performance and that the data quality in the Caravan dataset is lower than the one in the CAMELS datasets, both for precipitation and potential evapotranspiration. We want to raise awareness of the lower data quality in Caravan and we suggest possible improvements for the Caravan dataset.