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A Bayesian-based multilevel factorial analysis method for analyzing parameter uncertainty of hydrological model

Liu, Y.R., Li, Y.P., Huang, G.H., Zhang, J.L., Fan, Y.R.
Journal of hydrology 2017 v.553 pp. 750-762
Bayesian theory, Cambisols, algorithms, available water capacity, case studies, factor analysis, hydraulic conductivity, hydrologic models, overland flow, parameter uncertainty, plant available water, prediction, rain, rivers, runoff, soil conservation, soil depth, watersheds, wet season, China
In this study, a Bayesian-based multilevel factorial analysis (BMFA) method is developed to assess parameter uncertainties and their effects on hydrological model responses. In BMFA, Differential Evolution Adaptive Metropolis (DREAM) algorithm is employed to approximate the posterior distributions of model parameters with Bayesian inference; factorial analysis (FA) technique is used for measuring the specific variations of hydrological responses in terms of posterior distributions to investigate the individual and interactive effects of parameters on model outputs. BMFA is then applied to a case study of the Jinghe River watershed in the Loess Plateau of China to display its validity and applicability. The uncertainties of four sensitive parameters, including soil conservation service runoff curve number to moisture condition II (CN2), soil hydraulic conductivity (SOL_K), plant available water capacity (SOL_AWC), and soil depth (SOL_Z), are investigated. Results reveal that (i) CN2 has positive effect on peak flow, implying that the concentrated rainfall during rainy season can cause infiltration-excess surface flow, which is an considerable contributor to peak flow in this watershed; (ii) SOL_K has positive effect on average flow, implying that the widely distributed cambisols can lead to medium percolation capacity; (iii) the interaction between SOL_AWC and SOL_Z has noticeable effect on the peak flow and their effects are dependent upon each other, which discloses that soil depth can significant influence the processes of plant uptake of soil water in this watershed. Based on the above findings, the significant parameters and the relationship among uncertain parameters can be specified, such that hydrological model’s capability for simulating/predicting water resources of the Jinghe River watershed can be improved.