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Stochastic Calibration of Riverine Water Quality Models

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Though commonly used, the suitability of deterministic calibration criteria for stochastic model calibration and uncertainty analysis is unclear. The purpose of this paper is to examine the suitability, relative benefits, and substantial disadvantages of “deterministic-optimization” approaches, such as root mean square error (RMSE), in stochastic contexts. Three alternate calibration strategies that are suitable for stochastic modeling of water quality under uncertainty are proposed and then demonstrated. The three alternate strategies are the absolute relative error (ARE), weighted relative error, and stochastic exceedance calibration strategy. The findings suggest that potential improvements can be made to current calibration paradigms.

The alternate calibration strategies, all of which are based on relative error, were found to match or exceed RMSE calibration strategies, in terms of overall performance, with the enhancement of superior model surface-response characteristics. Additionally, the application of more stringent ARE criteria offered greater improvement in the stochastic calibration response than increasing the RMSE threshold criteria. Several qualitative benefits of ARE and related metrics also were shown. Because many environmental systems and almost all water quality models are subject to substantial uncertainty, approaches such as those proposed hold substantial, widely applicable benefits.

Keywords: calibration; model; stochastic; uncertainty; water quality

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2010-02-01

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  • Water Environment Research (WER) is published monthly, including an annual Literature Review. A subscription to WER includes access to the latest content back to 1992, as well as access to fast track articles. An individual subscription is valid for 12 months from month of purchase.

    Water Environment Research (WER) publishes peer-reviewed research papers, research notes, state-of-the-art and critical reviews on original, fundamental and applied research in all scientific and technical areas related to water quality, pollution control, and management. An annual Literature Review provides a review of published books and articles on water quality topics from the previous year.

    Published as: Sewage Works Journal, 1928 - 1949; Sewage and Industrial Wastes, 1950 - 1959; Journal Water Pollution Control Federation, 1959 - Oct 1989; Research Journal Water Pollution Control Federation, Nov 1989 - 1991; Water Environment Research, 1992 - present.
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