Many regions are still threatened with frequent floods and water resource shortage problems in China. Consequently, the task of reproducing and predicting the hydrological process in watersheds is hard and unavoidable for reducing the risks of damage and loss. Thus, it is necessary to develop an efficient and cost-effective hydrological tool in China as many areas should be modeled. Currently, developed hydrological tools such as Mike SHE and ArcSWAT (soil and water assessment tool based on ArcGIS) show significant power in improving the precision of hydrological modeling in China by considering spatial variability both in land cover and in soil type. However, adopting developed commercial tools in such a large developing country comes at a high cost. Commercial modeling tools usually contain large numbers of formulas, complicated data formats, and many preprocessing or postprocessing steps that may make it difficult for the user to carry out simulation, thus lowering the efficiency of the modeling process. Besides, commercial hydrological models usually cannot be modified or improved to be suitable for some special hydrological conditions in China. Some other hydrological models are open source, but integrated into commercial GIS systems. Therefore, by integrating hydrological simulation code EasyDHM, a hydrological simulation tool named MWEasyDHM was developed based on open-source MapWindow GIS, the purpose of which is to establish the first open-source GIS-based distributed hydrological model tool in China by integrating modules of preprocessing, model computation, parameter estimation, result display, and analysis. MWEasyDHM provides users with a friendly manipulating MapWindow GIS interface, selectable multifunctional hydrological processing modules, and, more importantly, an efficient and cost-effective hydrological simulation tool. The general construction of MWEasyDHM consists of four major parts: (1) a general GIS module for hydrological analysis, (2) a preprocessing module for modeling inputs, (3) a model calibration module, and (4) a postprocessing module. The general GIS module for hydrological analysis is developed on the basis of totally open-source GIS software, MapWindow, which contains basic GIS functions. The preprocessing module is made up of three submodules including a DEM-based submodule for hydrological analysis, a submodule for default parameter calculation, and a submodule for the spatial interpolation of meteorological data. The calibration module contains parallel computation, real-time computation, and visualization. The postprocessing module includes model calibration and model results spatial visualization using tabular form and spatial grids. MWEasyDHM makes it possible for efficient modeling and calibration of EasyDHM, and promises further development of cost-effective applications in various watersheds.
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