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Assessment of parametric uncertainty for groundwater reactive transport modeling,

May 1, 2014

The validity of using Gaussian assumptions for model residuals in uncertainty quantification of a groundwater reactive transport model was evaluated in this study. Least squares regression methods explicitly assume Gaussian residuals, and the assumption leads to Gaussian likelihood functions, model parameters, and model predictions. While the Bayesian methods do not explicitly require the Gaussian assumption, Gaussian residuals are widely used. This paper shows that the residuals of the reactive transport model are non-Gaussian, heteroscedastic, and correlated in time; characterizing them requires using a generalized likelihood function such as the formal generalized likelihood function developed by Schoups and Vrugt (2010). For the surface complexation model considered in this study for simulating uranium reactive transport in groundwater, parametric uncertainty is quantified using the least squares regression methods and Bayesian methods with both Gaussian and formal generalized likelihood functions. While the least squares methods and Bayesian methods with Gaussian likelihood function produce similar Gaussian parameter distributions, the parameter distributions of Bayesian uncertainty quantification using the formal generalized likelihood function are non-Gaussian. In addition, predictive performance of formal generalized likelihood function is superior to that of least squares regression and Bayesian methods with Gaussian likelihood function. The Bayesian uncertainty quantification is conducted using the differential evolution adaptive metropolis (DREAM(zs)) algorithm; as a Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) method, it is a robust tool for quantifying uncertainty in groundwater reactive transport models. For the surface complexation model, the regression-based local sensitivity analysis and Morris- and DREAM(ZS)-based global sensitivity analysis yield almost identical ranking of parameter importance. The uncertainty analysis may help select appropriate likelihood functions, improve model calibration, and reduce predictive uncertainty in other groundwater reactive transport and environmental modeling.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2014
Title Assessment of parametric uncertainty for groundwater reactive transport modeling,
DOI 10.1002/2013WR013755
Authors Xiaoqing Shi, Ming Ye, Gary P. Curtis, Geoffery L. Miller, Philip D. Meyer, Matthias Kohler, Steve Yabusaki, Jichun Wu
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Water Resources Research
Index ID 70129247
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization National Research Program - Western Branch