Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2019, Vol. 29 ›› Issue (6): 1039-1060.doi: 10.1007/s11442-019-1643-9

• Review Article • Previous Articles    

A review of underlying surface parameterization methods in hydrologic models

Lingling ZHAO1,2, Changming LIU2(), Leszek SOBKOWIAK3, Xiaoxiao WU4, Jiafu LIU5   

  1. 1. Guangzhou Institute of Geography, Guangzhou 510070, China
    2. Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
    3. Adam Mickiewicz University, Institute of Physical Geography and Environmental Planning, 61-680 Poznań, Poland;
    4. Department of Earth and Environment, Anhui University of Science & Technology, Huainan 232001, Anhui, China;
    5. Maoming Branch Hydrological Bureau of Guangdong Province, Maoming 525000, Guangdong, China
  • Received:2018-05-05 Accepted:2018-10-10 Online:2019-06-25 Published:2019-06-25
  • About author:

    Author: Zhao Lingling (1980-), PhD and Associate Professor, specialized in hydrological cycle simulation and water resources management. E-mail:

  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41771044, No.41501046;Water Conservancy Science and Technology Innovation Project of Guangdong Provincial Water Resources Department, No.2014-14, No.2016-14;Natural Science Foundation of Guangdong Province, No.2015A030310234;GDAS’ Project of Science and Technology Development, No.2019GDASYL-0104003, No.2018GDASCX-0101, No.2017 GDASCX-0806;Science and Technology Project of Guangdong Province, No.2018B030324002


Numerous topography, land-cover, land-use, and soil-type parameterization methods are required to simulate the hydrologic cycle. In this paper, using the principles of hydrologic cycle simulation, 20 methods commonly applied to runoff-yield simulation are analyzed. Additionally, parameterization methods used in 17 runoff-yield simulation methods and 15 confluence methods are discussed, including the degree of parameterization. Next, the parameterization methods are classified into four categories: not clearly expressed; calibrated; deterministic; and physical-conceptual. Furthermore, we clarify responses and contributions of different parameterization methods to hydrologic cycle simulation results. Finally, major weaknesses of simplified descriptions of complex rational and physical mechanisms in the parameterization methods of the underlying surfaces in hydrologic models are outlined, and two directions of future development are estimated, looking toward simple practicality and complex mechanization.

Key words: hydrologic cycle simulation, watershed topography, land use and cover, watershed characteristics, parameterization