Frontiers of Earth Science

, Volume 11, Issue 3, pp 592–600 | Cite as

A comparison of single- and multi-site calibration and validation: a case study of SWAT in the Miyun Reservoir watershed, China

  • Jianwen Bai
  • Zhenyao Shen
  • Tiezhu Yan
Research Article


An essential task in evaluating global water resource and pollution problems is to obtain the optimum set of parameters in hydrological models through calibration and validation. For a large-scale watershed, single-site calibration and validation may ignore spatial heterogeneity and may not meet the needs of the entire watershed. The goal of this study is to apply a multi-site calibration and validation of the Soil andWater Assessment Tool (SWAT), using the observed flow data at three monitoring sites within the Baihe watershed of the Miyun Reservoir watershed, China. Our results indicate that the multi-site calibration parameter values are more reasonable than those obtained from single-site calibrations. These results are mainly due to significant differences in the topographic factors over the large-scale area, human activities and climate variability. The multi-site method involves the division of the large watershed into smaller watersheds, and applying the calibrated parameters of the multi-site calibration to the entire watershed. It was anticipated that this case study could provide experience of multi-site calibration in a large-scale basin, and provide a good foundation for the simulation of other pollutants in followup work in the Miyun Reservoir watershed and other similar large areas.


calibration soil and water assessment tool Miyun Reservoir multi-site 


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The research was funded by National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 51579011), National Science Foundation for Innovative Research Group (No. 51421065) and State Key Program of National Natural Science of China (Grant No. 41530635).


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© Higher Education Press and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Water Environment Simulation, School of EnvironmentBeijing Normal UniversityBeijingChina

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