Articles | Volume 12, issue 2
09 Apr 2008
 | 09 Apr 2008

Towards model evaluation and identification using Self-Organizing Maps

M. Herbst and M. C. Casper

Abstract. The reduction of information contained in model time series through the use of aggregating statistical performance measures is very high compared to the amount of information that one would like to draw from it for model identification and calibration purposes. It has been readily shown that this loss imposes important limitations on model identification and -diagnostics and thus constitutes an element of the overall model uncertainty. In this contribution we present an approach using a Self-Organizing Map (SOM) to circumvent the identifiability problem induced by the low discriminatory power of aggregating performance measures. Instead, a Self-Organizing Map is used to differentiate the spectrum of model realizations, obtained from Monte-Carlo simulations with a distributed conceptual watershed model, based on the recognition of different patterns in time series. Further, the SOM is used instead of a classical optimization algorithm to identify those model realizations among the Monte-Carlo simulation results that most closely approximate the pattern of the measured discharge time series. The results are analyzed and compared with the manually calibrated model as well as with the results of the Shuffled Complex Evolution algorithm (SCE-UA). In our study the latter slightly outperformed the SOM results. The SOM method, however, yields a set of equivalent model parameterizations and therefore also allows for confining the parameter space to a region that closely represents a measured data set. This particular feature renders the SOM potentially useful for future model identification applications.