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Regionalization of hydrological modeling for predicting streamflow in ungauged catchments: A comprehensive review

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Abstract Runoff prediction in ungauged and scarcely gauged catchments is a key research field in surface water hydrology. There have been numerous studies before and since the launch of the predictions in ungauged basins (PUB) initiative by the International Association of Hydrological Sciences in 2003. This study critically reviews and assesses the decadal progress in the regionalization of hydrological modeling, which is the major tool for PUB, from 2000 to 2019. This paper found that the journal publications have noticeably increased in terms of PUB in the past 7 years, and research countries have been expanded dramatically since 2013. The regionalization methods are grouped into three categories including similarity‐based, regression‐based, and hydrological signature‐based. There are more detailed researches focusing on the interdisciplinary and profound improvement of each regionalization method. Namely, tremendous efforts have been made and lots of improvements have been carried out in the parameterization domain for the post‐PUB period. However, there is still plenty of room to improve the prediction capability in data‐sparse regions (e.g., further verification and proof of multi‐modeling adaptation and uncertainties description). This paper also discusses possible research directions in the future, including PUB in a changing environment and better utilization of multi‐source remote‐sensing information. This article is categorized under: Science of Water > Science of Water
Calibration of the Nash–Sutcliffe efficiency (NSE) and regionalization of the NSE scatter plot (Q signature method is not listed due to few research cases; the calibration of the NSE refers to the mean of calibration results over the donor catchments and the regionalization of the NSE refers to mean leave‐one‐out validation results of the target catchments)
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Nash–Sutcliffe efficiency (NSE) comparison among different parameter regionalization methods (the NSE of each specific regionalization method refers to the mean of the leave‐one‐out cross‐validation results over the studied catchments)
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The concept map of hydrological regionalization methods for runoff prediction in ungauged catchments (the concept based on the regression method refers to He et al., 2011; the main idea of the hydrological signature‐based method comes from Yadav, Wagener, & Gupta, 2007)
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Comparison of runoff prediction results between 2000–2012 and 2013–2019 for several countries or continent, where lots of efforts have been put for studying hydrological regionalization in the last two decades (the Nash–Sutcliffe efficiency refers to the mean results of the leave‐one‐out cross‐validation over the studied catchments)
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Annual change in the number of journal publications for hydrological regionalization
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Number of peer‐reviewed journal publications for the periods of 2000–2012 and 2013–2019. Noted that all selected papers are searched from the ISI Web of Knowledge and Google Scholar with the search term of “hydrological” and “prediction in ungauged basins.” All the papers are then stratified at the country level based on their study region(s)
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Parameter regionalization process of the Nash–Sutcliffe efficiency (NSE), calibration period of the NSE and catchment number bubble diagram
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Scatter plot of aridity index (PET/P) and the Nash–Sutcliffe efficiency (NSE) regionalized using spatial proximity, physical similarity, and regression‐based approach (the regionalization of the NSE refers to mean of leave‐one‐out validation of the NSE over the target catchments)
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