Multi-objective calibration of a distributed hydrological model (WetSpa) using a genetic algorithm
- Department of Hydrology and Hydraulic Engineering, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium
Abstract. A multi-objective genetic algorithm, NSGA-II, is applied to calibrate a distributed hydrological model (WetSpa) for prediction of river discharges. The goals of this study include (i) analysis of the applicability of multi-objective approach for WetSpa calibration instead of the traditional approach, i.e. the Parameter ESTimator software (PEST), and (ii) identifiability assessment of model parameters. The objective functions considered are model efficiency (Nash-Sutcliffe criterion) known to be biased for high flows, and model efficiency for logarithmic transformed discharges to emphasize low-flow values. For the multi-objective approach, Pareto-optimal parameter sets are derived, whereas for the single-objective formulation, PEST is applied to give optimal parameter sets. The two approaches are evaluated by applying the WetSpa model to predict daily discharges in the Hornad River (Slovakia) for a 10 year period (1991–2000). The results reveal that NSGA-II performs favourably well to locate Pareto optimal solutions in the parameters search space. Furthermore, identifiability analysis of the WetSpa model parameters shows that most parameters are well-identifiable. However, in order to perform an appropriate model evaluation, more efforts should be focused on improving calibration concepts and to define robust methods to quantify different sources of uncertainties involved in the calibration procedure.