Water Resources Management

, Volume 33, Issue 1, pp 439–452 | Cite as

A TOPSIS-Based Multicriteria Approach to the Calibration of a Basin-Scale SWAT Hydrological Model

  • Bentolhoda Asl-Rousta
  • S. Jamshid MousaviEmail author


Calibration is one of the most important steps of hydrological modeling and applications. Observed data availability and model parameterization are two important factors affecting the calibration efficiency of the models. This study focuses on the assessment of the effects of the number and location of sites (LoS), number of parameters (NoP), and the calibration method (CM) on the performance of the SWAT hydrological model of a basin. Accordingly, twelve different models with respect to LoS, NoP, and CM are built for the Sirwan River Basin in Iran. NS, R-factor and P-factor efficiency criteria are then used to evaluate how well the models perform both in calibration and validation stages. In order to prioritize the models, TOPSIS multi-criteria decision analysis approach is applied to aggregate different efficiency criteria and to discriminate between the models. Results show the usefulness of the proposed MCDA-based approach to rank different alternatives (settings) of model calibration. Additionally, multi-site calibration is not always better than single-site calibration, and the locations of the sites included in the calibration procedure are also important in this respect.


Hydrological modeling SWAT Calibration MCDA TOPSIS 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest



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© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Civil and Environmental EngineeringAmirkabir University of Technology (Tehran Polytechnic)TehranIran

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