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    Modular Assessment of Rainfall-Runoff Models Toolbox (MARRMoT) v2.1: an object-oriented implementation of 47 established hydrological models for improved speed and readability
    Trotter, L ; Knoben, WJM ; Fowler, KJA ; Saft, M ; Peel, MC (COPERNICUS GESELLSCHAFT MBH, 2022-08-26)
    Abstract. The Modular Assessment of Rainfall–Runoff Models Toolbox (MARRMoT) is a flexible modelling framework reproducing the behaviour of 47 established hydrological models. This toolbox can be used to calibrate and run models in a user-friendly and consistent way and is designed to facilitate the sharing of model code for reproducibility and to support intercomparison between hydrological models. Additionally, it allows users to create or modify models using components of existing ones. We present a new MARRMoT release (v2.1) designed for improved speed and ease of use. While improved computational efficiency was the main driver for this redevelopment, MARRMoT v2.1 also succeeds in drastically reducing the verbosity and repetitiveness of the code, which improves readability and facilitates debugging. The process to create new models or modify existing ones within the toolbox is also simplified in this version, making MARRMoT v2.1 accessible for researchers and practitioners at all levels of expertise. These improvements were achieved by implementing an object-oriented structure and aggregating all common model operations into a single class definition from which all models inherit. The new modelling framework maintains and improves on several good practices built into the original MARRMoT and includes a number of new features such as the possibility of retrieving more output in different formats that simplifies troubleshooting, and a new functionality that simplifies the calibration process. We compare outputs of 36 of the models in the framework to an earlier published analysis and demonstrate that MARRMoT v2.1 is highly consistent with the previous version of MARRMoT (v1.4), while achieving a 3.6-fold improvement in runtime on average. The new version of the toolbox and user manual, including several workflow examples for common application, are available from GitHub (https://github.com/wknoben/MARRMoT, last access: 12 May 2022; https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.6484372, Trotter and Knoben, 2022b).
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    Towards Understanding Evapotranspiration Shifts Under a Drying Climate
    Gardiya Weligamage, H ; Fowler, K ; Peterson, T ; Saft, M ; Ryu, D ; Peel, M (Copernicus, 2022-03-28)
    Around 60 percent of terrestrial precipitation on the global average transforms into evapotranspiration. However, reliable estimation of actual evapotranspiration (AET) is challenging as it depends on multiple climatic and biophysical factors. Despite developments such as remotely sensed AET products, AET responses to prolonged drought is still poorly understood. Therefore, this study focuses on understanding long-term changes and variability of AET prior to and during the Millennium Drought in Victoria, Australia. We also investigate the capability of commonly used rainfall-runoff models to simulate AET under multiyear droughts. Therefore, we employ simple sensitivity analysis to examine four different water balance approaches between pre-drought and drought periods in six different study catchments in Victoria. The first water balance approach is the simplest long-term water balance approach, partitioning long-term precipitation into evapotranspiration and runoff. The second water balance approach adopts a long-term change in storage to the water balance during the Millennium Drought by employing regional-scale change in GRACE estimates derived from Fowler et al. (2020). The third and fourth water balances are based on simulations from SIMHYD and SACRAMENTO. Surprisingly, the adoption of long-term change in storage during the Millennium Drought indicates that the annual rates of pre-drought AET were largely maintained throughout the drought; i.e. the rate was relatively constant with time. This suggests that AET gets priority over streamflow following a drying shift in precipitation partitioning; resulting in a relatively constant AET under multiyear drought. In contrast, the rainfall-runoff models underestimated AET during the drought compared to both water balance approaches. These results broadly acknowledge the need for model improvements to provide more realistic AET estimates under future drying climates and provide a new perspective on recent hydrological phenomena such as changing rainfall-runoff relationships in these regions. Furthermore, this sensitivity analysis was augmented and confirmed by a regional-scale water balance approach.
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    Explaining changes in rainfall-runoff relationships during and after Australia's Millennium Drought: a community perspective
    Fowler, K ; Peel, M ; Saft, M ; Peterson, T ; Western, A ; Band, L ; Petheram, C ; Dharmadi, S ; Tan, KS ; Zhang, L ; Lane, P ; Kiem, A ; Marshall, L ; Griebel, A ; Medlyn, B ; Ryu, D ; Bonotto, G ; Wasko, C ; Ukkola, A ; Stephens, C ; Frost, A ; Weligamage, H ; Saco, P ; Zheng, H ; Chiew, F ; Daly, E ; Walker, G ; Vervoort, RW ; Hughes, J ; Trotter, L ; Neal, B ; Cartwright, I ; Nathan, R ( 2022-04-20)
    The Millennium Drought lasted more than a decade, and is notable for causing persistent shifts in the relationship between rainfall and runoff in many south-east Australian catchments. Research to date has successfully characterised where and when shifts occurred and explored relationships with potential drivers, but a convincing physical explanation for observed changes in catchment behaviour is still lacking. Originating from a large multi-disciplinary workshop, this paper presents a range of possible process explanations of flow response, and then evaluates these hypotheses against available evidence. The hypotheses consider climatic forcing, vegetation, soil moisture dynamics, groundwater, and anthropogenic influence. The hypotheses are assessed against evidence both temporally (eg. why was the Millennium Drought different to previous droughts?) and spatially (eg. why did rainfall-runoff relationships shift in some catchments but not in others?). The results point to the unprecedented length of the drought as the primary climatic driver, paired with interrelated groundwater processes, including: declines in groundwater storage, reduced recharge associated with vadose zone expansion, and reduced connection between subsurface and surface water processes. Other causes include increased evaporative demand and interception of runoff by small private dams. Finally, we discuss the need for long-term field monitoring, particularly targeting internal catchment processes and subsurface dynamics. We recommend continued investment in understanding of hydrological shifts, particularly given their relevance to water planning under climate variability and change.
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    AWAPer: An R package for area weighted catchment daily meteorological data anywhere within Australia
    Peterson, TJ ; Wasko, C ; Saft, M ; Peel, MC (John Wiley & Sons Ltd., 2020-02-28)
    Meteorological time‐series data are a fundamental input to hydrological investigations. But sourcing data is often laborious and plagued with difficulties. In an effort to improve efficiency and rigor we present an R‐package, named AWAPer (https://github.com/peterson-tim-j/AWAPer), for the efficient estimation of daily area weighted catchment average and spatial variance of meteorological variables, including evapotranspiration. The package allows creation and updating of a data‐cube of gridded daily data from 1900 onwards. Once created, point and area weighted estimates can be extracted at user‐defined locations and time periods for anywhere within Australia. Examples of point and catchment average extraction are presented.
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    Many Commonly Used Rainfall‐Runoff Models Lack Long, Slow Dynamics: Implications for Runoff Projections
    Fowler, K ; Knoben, W ; Peel, M ; Peterson, T ; Ryu, D ; Saft, M ; Seo, K ; Western, A (American Geophysical Union (AGU), 2020-05)
    Evidence suggests that catchment state variables such as groundwater can exhibit multiyear trends. This means that their state may reflect not only recent climatic conditions but also climatic conditions in past years or even decades. Here we demonstrate that five commonly used conceptual “bucket” rainfall‐runoff models are unable to replicate multiyear trends exhibited by natural systems during the “Millennium Drought” in south‐east Australia. This causes an inability to extrapolate to different climatic conditions, leading to poor performance in split sample tests. Simulations are examined from five models applied in 38 catchments, then compared with groundwater data from 19 bores and Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment data for two geographic regions. Whereas the groundwater and Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment data decrease from high to low values gradually over the duration of the 13‐year drought, the model storages go from high to low values in a typical seasonal cycle. This is particularly the case in the drier, flatter catchments. Once the drought begins, there is little room for decline in the simulated storage, because the model “buckets” are already “emptying” on a seasonal basis. Since the effects of sustained dry conditions cannot accumulate within these models, we argue that they should not be used for runoff projections in a drying climate. Further research is required to (a) improve conceptual rainfall‐runoff models, (b) better understand circumstances in which multiyear trends in state variables occur, and (c) investigate links between these multiyear trends and changes in rainfall‐runoff relationships in the context of a changing climate.
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    The influence of multiyear drought on the annual rainfall-runoff relationship: An Australian perspective
    Saft, M ; Western, AW ; Zhang, L ; Peel, MC ; Potter, NJ (AMER GEOPHYSICAL UNION, 2015-04-01)
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    Bias in streamflow projections due to climate-induced shifts in catchment response
    Saft, M ; Peel, MC ; Western, AW ; Perraud, J-M ; Zhang, L (AMER GEOPHYSICAL UNION, 2016-02-28)