Three decades of hydrological modelling research in South Africa

Hughes, D.A. (2004) Three decades of hydrological modelling research in South Africa. South African Journal of Science, 100 (11 & 12). pp. 638-642. ISSN 0038-2353




This paper presents a review of the research undertaken in the field of hydrological modelling over roughly the last three decades, concentrating primarily on South African work in an international context. The focus is on deterministic, rainfall-runoff models and addresses issues related to model design as well as to the application of models in practice. I provide a brief description of what hydrological models are and what they are used for and discuss also the following issues: • Developments in understanding hydrological process and the extent to which these have filtered down into models. • Model calibration and parameter estimation. • Trends in data availability and how these have affected model development. • Trends in computer technology and their impacts on model development. I suggest that there have been substantial developments in the science and practice of hydrological modelling, but that there remain many problems that need to be addressed to improve the ability of models to contribute to the solution of problems of water resource management. Southern African scientists have contributed to the body of knowledge on hydrological modelling, despite the limited resources available compared to resources elsewhere. Internationally, the focus has not always been on the practical issues of model application and has commonly tended towards the more theoretical and mathematical issues of model calibration. This is not a trend that has found much favour in southern Africa (particularly amongst research funding agencies), where there are many problems of water resource management that have the potential to be resolved with existing models, applied in an appropriate way. The paper concludes by suggesting that further research needs to focus on the integration of the best in international developments with the tried and tested models that have been developed locally. The context of this research should be the search for more reliable estimations of water resource availability.

Item Type:Article
Additional Information:Rhodes Centenary issue
Uncontrolled Keywords:hydrological modelling, South Africa, rainfall-runoff, water resource management
Subjects:Y Unknown > Subjects to be assigned
Divisions:Research Institutes and Units > Institute for Water Research (IWR)
ID Code:128
Deposited By: Rhodes Library Archive Administrator
Deposited On:18 Aug 2005
Last Modified:06 Jan 2012 16:17
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