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Publication Date
1 May 2016

Classification of hydrological parameter sensitivity and evaluation of parameter transferability across 431 US MOPEX basins



The Community Land Model (CLM) represents physical, chemical, and biological processes of the terrestrial ecosystems that interact with climate across a range of spatial and temporal scales. As CLM includes numerous sub-models and associated parameters, the high-dimensional parameter space presents a formidable challenge for quantifying uncertainty and improving Earth system predictions needed to assess environmental changes and risks. This study aims to evaluate the potential of transferring hydrologic model parameters in CLM through sensitivity analyses and classification across watersheds from the Model Parameter Estimation Experiment (MOPEX) in the United States. The sensitivity of CLM-simulated water and energy fluxes to hydrological parameters across 431 MOPEX basins are first examined using an efficient stochastic sampling-based sensitivity analysis approach. Linear, interaction, and high-order nonlinear impacts are all identified via statistical tests and stepwise backward removal parameter screening. The basins are then classified according to their parameter sensitivity patterns (internal attributes), as well as their hydrologic indices/attributes (external hydrologic factors) separately, using Principal component analysis (PCA) and expectation–maximization (EM) – based clustering approach. Similarities and differences among the parameter sensitivity-based classification system (S-Class), the hydrologic indices-based classification (H-Class), and the Koppen climate classification systems (K-Class) are discussed. Within each parameter sensitivity-based classification system (S-Class) with similar parameter sensitivity characteristics, similar inversion modeling setups can be used for parameter calibration, and the parameters and their contribution or significance to water and energy cycling may also be more transferrable. This classification study provides guidance on identifiable parameters, and on parameterization and inverse model design for CLM but the methodology is applicable to other models. A set of experiments of model calibration were conducted to evaluate the transferability of model calibration strategies and parameter values within and between the classes. It was demonstrated that inverting parameters at representative sites belonging to the same class can significantly reduce parameter calibration efforts.

“Classification Of Hydrological Parameter Sensitivity And Evaluation Of Parameter Transferability Across 431 Us Mopex Basins”. 2016. Journal Of Hydrology 536: 92-108. doi:10.1016/j.jhydrol.2016.02.042.
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