A qualitative model structure sensitivity analysis method to support model selection
Faculty of Sciences. Bioscience Engineering
Journal of hydrology. - Amsterdam
, p. 3426-3435
University of Antwerp
The selection and identification of a suitable hydrological model structure is a more challenging task than fitting parameters of a fixed model structure to reproduce a measured hydrograph. The suitable model structure is highly dependent on various criteria, i.e. the modeling objective, the characteristics and the scale of the system under investigation and the available data. Flexible environments for model building are available, but need to be assisted by proper diagnostic tools for model structure selection. This paper introduces a qualitative method for model component sensitivity analysis. Traditionally, model sensitivity is evaluated for model parameters. In this paper, the concept is translated into an evaluation of model structure sensitivity. Similarly to the one-factor-at-a-time (OAT) methods for parameter sensitivity, this method varies the model structure components one at a time and evaluates the change in sensitivity towards the output variables. As such, the effect of model component variations can be evaluated towards different objective functions or output variables. The methodology is presented for a simple lumped hydrological model environment, introducing different possible model building variations. By comparing the effect of changes in model structure for different model objectives, model selection can be better evaluated. Based on the presented component sensitivity analysis of a case study, some suggestions with regard to model selection are formulated for the system under study: (1) a non-linear storage component is recommended, since it ensures more sensitive (identifiable) parameters for this component and less parameter interaction; (2) interflow is mainly important for the low flow criteria; (3) excess infiltration process is most influencing when focussing on the lower flows; (4) a more simple routing component is advisable; and (5) baseflow parameters have in general low sensitivity values, except for the low flow criteria. (C) 2014 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.