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Variable Infiltration Capacity (VIC) land surface hydrology model


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The VIC is a semi-distributed land surface scheme hydrology model that simulates the energy and water balances at each grid cell. A unit-hydrograph-based routing model is then used in order to derive simulated flow. The model gives realistic representation of water fluxes (fast and slow flows) by using three different soil layers-a variable infiltration, a mosaic of vegetation cover with roots with different depths, and elevation bands). Typical indicators are simulated flow (cfs or cms); snow water equivalent - water storage (mm); soil moisture percentiles (%) for flood and drought conditions; and runoff over precipitation ratio to assess the loss to the atmosphere (fraction).

Geographic Location

The model has been applied globally. Presently, there is a A set up is currently available from the University of Washington at 1/16th degree over the Descutes River, Oregon. OR from the University of Washington. However the set up is not well calibrated for this basin. The region has very porous and deep soils ( volcanic soils), which makes it a challenge to calibrate .


A 1/16th -degree gridded meteorological forcing ( 1915-2005) is presently currently available. NA near real -time 1/8th degree gridded dataset can be generated daily at PNNL (work in progress). The model requires daily precipitation, minimum and maximum temperatures, and wind. Various soil and vegetation parameters are already set up over the basin at both 1/8th (13 km) and 1/16th (6 km) degrees. RA routing model network is available, but parameters will require further calibration.


Outputs include a Fflow discharge time series at specified locations. DOther features are daily maps of runoff, base flow, snow water equivalent, and soil moisture in the total soil column and by soil layers.

Linkage to Other Models

The VIC model has been providing flow for other downstream models like stream temperature models ( Mantua et al. 2010), (Yearsley and Tan 2011) and water resources models ( Calsim -Van Rheenen et al. 2004, Colsim Christensen et al. 2004, Vano et al. 2010a RIVERWARE ( PNNL collaboration), Vano et al. 2010b).

Level of Effort

The tool is ready for calibration. Minimum time - 2 weeks. Limitations - availability of naturalized observed flow.

Basin Scale Opportunity Assesment