An Effective Parameter Screening Strategy for High Dimensional Watershed Models

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Yogesh P Khare, Christopher J Martinez and Rafael Munoz-Carpena, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, United States
Watershed simulation models can assess the impacts of natural and anthropogenic disturbances on natural systems. These models have become important tools for tackling a range of water resources problems through their implementation in the formulation and evaluation of Best Management Practices, Total Maximum Daily Loads, and Basin Management Action Plans. For accurate applications of watershed models they need to be thoroughly evaluated through global uncertainty and sensitivity analyses (UA/SA). However, due to the high dimensionality of these models such evaluation becomes extremely time- and resource-consuming. Parameter screening, the qualitative separation of important parameters, has been suggested as an essential step before applying rigorous evaluation techniques such as the Sobol’ and Fourier Amplitude Sensitivity Test (FAST) methods in the UA/SA framework. The method of elementary effects (EE) (Morris, 1991) is one of the most widely used screening methodologies. Some of the common parameter sampling strategies for EE, e.g. Optimized Trajectories [OT] (Campolongo et al., 2007) and Modified Optimized Trajectories [MOT] (Ruano et al., 2012), suffer from inconsistencies in the generated parameter distributions, infeasible sample generation time, etc. In this work, we have formulated a new parameter sampling strategy – Sampling for Uniformity (SU) - for parameter screening which is based on the principles of the uniformity of the generated parameter distributions and the spread of the parameter sample. A rigorous multi-criteria evaluation (time, distribution, spread and screening efficiency) of OT, MOT, and SU indicated that SU is superior to other sampling strategies. Comparison of the EE-based parameter importance rankings with those of Sobol’ helped to quantify the qualitativeness of the EE parameter screening approach, reinforcing the fact that one should use EE only to reduce the resource burden required by FAST/Sobol’ analyses but not to replace it.