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Moving beyond traditional model calibration or how to better identify realistic model parameters: sub-period calibration

Author(s): S. Gharari | M. Hrachowitz | F. Fenicia | H. H. G. Savenije

Journal: Hydrology and Earth System Sciences Discussions
ISSN 1812-2108

Volume: 9;
Issue: 2;
Start page: 1885;
Date: 2012;
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Conceptual hydrological models often rely on calibration for the identification of their parameters. As these models are typically designed to reflect real catchment processes, a key objective of an appropriate calibration strategy is the determination of parameter sets that reflect a "realistic" model behavior. Previous studies have shown that parameter estimates for different calibration periods can be significantly different. This questions model transposability in time, which is one of the key conditions for the set-up of a "realistic" model. This paper presents a new approach that selects parameter sets that provide a consistent model performance in time. The approach consists of confronting model performance in different periods, and selecting parameter sets that are as close as possible to the optimum of each individual sub-period. While aiding model calibration, the approach is also useful as a diagnostic tool, illustrating tradeoffs in the identification of time consistent parameter sets. The approach is demonstrated in a case study where we illustrate the multi-objective calibration of the HyMod hydrological model to a Luxembourgish catchment.
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