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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Tucson, Arizona » SWRC » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #345817

Research Project: Understanding Water-Driven Ecohydrologic and Erosion Processes in the Semiarid Southwest to Improve Watershed Management

Location: Southwest Watershed Research Center

Title: A user-friendly software package for VIC hydrologic model development

item WI, S. - University Of Massachusetts
item RAY, P. - University Of Massachusetts
item Demaria, Eleonora
item STEINSCHNEIDER, S. - Cornell University
item BROWN, C. - University Of Massachusetts

Submitted to: Journal of Environmental Modeling and Software
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/13/2017
Publication Date: 10/4/2017
Citation: Wi, S., Ray, P., Demaria, E.M., Steinschneider, S., Brown, C. 2017. A user-friendly software package for VIC hydrologic model development. Journal of Environmental Modeling and Software. 98:35-53.

Interpretive Summary: Land surface models (LSM) are widely used by the scientific community to simulate the hydrologic cycle in medium to large size basins. One of the most used LSMs is the Variable Infiltration Capacity (VIC) model developed by the University of Washington. Despite its popularity, the setup of the VIC model for a basin of interest requires the preparation of several input files that allow the user to characterize: climate, soil properties, vegetation properties, and elevation and channel characteristics. This process is troublesome since it requires gathering soil and vegetation maps, digital elevation maps, and observations of daily precipitation and temperature for the study area. The VIC-AsSisT software package allows the user to build the input files required to run VIC using built-in libraries and additionally calibrate selected model parameters. The model setup is done in an interactive environment where the user can choose different datasets and monitor the stage of the calibration process. The aim of the package is to facilitate model setup and promote the use of the hydrologic model.

Technical Abstract: The Variable Infiltration Capacity (VIC) hydrologic and river routing model simulates the water and energy fluxes that occur near the land surface and provides useful information regarding the quantity and timing of available water within a watershed system. However, despite its popularity, wider adoption is hampered by the considerable effort required to prepare model inputs and calibrate the model parameters. This study presents a user-friendly software package, named VIC-Automated Setup Toolkit (VIC-AsSisT), accessible through an intuitive MATLAB graphical user interface. VIC-AsSisT enables users to navigate the model building process through prompts and automation, with an intention to promote the use of the model for both practical and educational purposes. The automated processes include watershed delineation, climate and geographical input set-up, model parameter calibration, and graphical output generation. We demonstrate the package’s utilities in various case studies.