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Improving the theoretical underpinnings of process-based hydrologic models

In this Commentary, we argue that it is possible to improve the physical realism of hydrologic models by making better use of existing hydrologic theory. We address the following questions: (1) what are some key elements of current hydrologic theory; (2) how can those elements best be incorporated where they may be missing in current models; and (3) how can we evaluate competing hydrologic theories across scales and locations? We propose that hydrologic science would benefit from a model-based community synthesis effort to reframe, integrate, and evaluate different explanations of hydrologic behavior, and provide a controlled avenue to find where understanding falls short.

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