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Reducing uncertainty based on model fitness: Application to a reservoir model

AC Linhoss, R Muñoz-Carpena, G Kiker, P Wolski


Sensitivity and uncertainty analysis are important tools in the modelling process: they assign confidence to model results, can aid in focusing monitoring and preservation efforts, and can be used in model simplification. A weakness of global sensitivity and uncertainty analysis methodologies is the often subjective definition of prior parameter probability distributions, especially in data-poor areas. We apply Monte Carlo filtering in conjunction with quantitative variance-based global sensitivity and uncertainty analysis techniques to address this weakness and define parameter probability distributions in the absence of measured data. This general methodology is applied to a reservoir model of the Okavango Delta, Botswana. In addition to providing a methodology for setting prior parameter distributions, results show that the use of Monte Carlo filtering reduces model uncertainty and produces simulations that better represent the calibrated ranges. Thus, Monte Carlo filtering increases the accuracy and precision of parametric model uncertainty. Results also show that the most important parameters in our model are the volume thresholds, the reservoir area/volume coefficient, floodplain porosity, and the island extinction coefficient. The reservoir representing the central part of the wetland, where flood waters separate into several independent distributaries, is a keystone area within the model. These results identify critical areas and parameters for monitoring and managing, refine and reduce input/output uncertainty, and present a transferable methodology for developing parameter probability distribution functions, especially when using empirical models in data-scarce areas.

Keywords: sensitivity analysis, uncertainty analysis, Monte Carlo filtering, reservoir model, Okavango Delta
AJOL African Journals Online