Data scarcity has been a huge problem in modeling the water resources of the Upper Blue Nile basin, Ethiopia. Satellite data and different statistical methods have been used to improve the quality of conventional meteorological data. This study assesses the applicability of the CFSR climate data in modelling the hydrology of the region.

The Soil and Water Assessment Tool was set up to compare the performance of CFSR weather with that of conventional weather in simulating observed streamflow at four river gauging stations in the Lake Tana basin — the upper part of the Upper Blue Nile basin. The conventional weather simulation performed satisfactorily (e.g., NSE ≥ 0.5) for three gauging stations, while the CFSR weather simulation performed satisfactorily for two.

The simulations with CFSR and conventional weather yielded minor differences in the water balance components in all but one watershed, where the CFSR weather simulation gave much higher average annual rainfall, resulting in higher water balance components. Both weather simulations gave similar annual crop yields in the four administrative zones.

Overall the simulation with the conventional weather performed better than the CFSR weather. However, in data-scarce regions such as remote parts of the Upper Blue Nile basin, CFSR weather could be a valuable option for hydrological predictions where conventional gauges are not available.

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