Catchment hydrological models are widely used in climate change impact studies. The considered climate scenarios often involve increases in rainfall intensities. These increases might go beyond the range of historical events used in model calibration and validation. The hydrological impact results of climate change consequently are under these circumstances highly uncertain.
This paper presents a method to test the validity of hydrological models for that type of impact analysis.
The method is based on the evaluation of peak flow increases due to different levels of rainfall increases. The method is demonstrated, based upon the results of three conceptual rainfall–runoff models (NAM, PDM, VHM) for three catchments in Belgium. It is shown how the performance of the model in predicting impacts of rainfall increases can be integrated in the calibration process and how this method
can increase the reliability of climate change impact results on peak flows. The paper addresses the importance of the relation between the soil moisture content and the overland flow coefficient, as it controls the generation of peak flows in the considered rainfall–runoff models.