A Bayesian Alternative for Multi-objective Ecohydrological Model Specification

Monday, 14 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
Yating Tang1, Lucy Amanda Marshall1, Ashish Sharma2 and Hoori Ajami2, (1)University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW, Australia, (2)University of New South Wales, School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Sydney, NSW, Australia
Process-based ecohydrological models combine the study of hydrological, physical, biogeochemical and ecological processes of the catchments, which are usually more complex and parametric than conceptual hydrological models. Thus, appropriate calibration objectives and model uncertainty analysis are essential for ecohydrological modeling. In recent years, Bayesian inference has become one of the most popular tools for quantifying the uncertainties in hydrological modeling with the development of Markov Chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) techniques. Our study aims to develop appropriate prior distributions and likelihood functions that minimize the model uncertainties and bias within a Bayesian ecohydrological framework.

In our study, a formal Bayesian approach is implemented in an ecohydrological model which combines a hydrological model (HyMOD) and a dynamic vegetation model (DVM). Simulations focused on one objective likelihood (Streamflow/LAI) and multi-objective likelihoods (Streamflow and LAI) with different weights are compared. Uniform, weakly informative and strongly informative prior distributions are used in different simulations. The Kullback-leibler divergence (KLD) is used to measure the dis(similarity) between different priors and corresponding posterior distributions to examine the parameter sensitivity.

Results show that different prior distributions can strongly influence posterior distributions for parameters, especially when the available data is limited or parameters are insensitive to the available data. We demonstrate differences in optimized parameters and uncertainty limits in different cases based on multi-objective likelihoods vs. single objective likelihoods. We also demonstrate the importance of appropriately defining the weights of objectives in multi-objective calibration according to different data types.