Lack of discharge data for model calibration is challenging for flood prediction in ungauged basins. Since establishment and maintenance of a permanent discharge station is resource demanding, a possible remedy could be to measure discharge only for a few events. We tested the hypothesis that a few flood-event hydrographs in a tropical basin would be sufficient to calibrate a bucket-type rainfall–runoff model, namely the HBV model, and proposed a new event-based calibration method to adequately predict floods. Parameter sets were chosen based on calibration of different scenarios of data availability, and their ability to predict floods was assessed. Compared to not having any discharge data, flood predictions improved already when one event was used for calibration. The results further suggest that two to four events for calibration may considerably improve flood predictions with regard to accuracy and uncertainty reduction, whereas adding more events beyond this resulted in small performance gains.
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