Testing alternative ground water models using cross-validation and other methods

L. Foglia*, S. W. Mehl, M. C. Hill, P. Perona, P. Burlando

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Many methods can be used to test alternative ground water models. Of concern in this work are methods able to (1) rank alternative models (also called model discrimination) and (2) identify observations important to parameter estimates and predictions (equivalent to the purpose served by some types of sensitivity analysis). Some of the measures investigated are computationally efficient; others are computationally demanding. The latter are generally needed to account for model nonlinearity. The efficient model discrimination methods investigated include the information criteria: the corrected Akaike information criterion, Bayesian information criterion, and generalized cross-validation. The efficient sensitivity analysis measures used are dimensionless scaled sensitivity (DSS), composite scaled sensitivity, and parameter correlation coefficient (PCC); the other statistics are DFBETAS, Cook's D, and observation-prediction statistic. Acronyms are explained in the introduction. Cross-validation (CV) is a computationally intensive nonlinear method that is used for both model discrimination and sensitivity analysis. The methods are tested using up to five alternative parsimoniously constructed models of the ground water system of the Maggia Valley in southern Switzerland. The alternative models differ in their representation of hydraulic conductivity. A new method for graphically representing CV and sensitivity analysis results for complex models is presented and used to evaluate the utility of the efficient statistics. The results indicate that for model selection, the information criteria produce similar results at much smaller computational cost than CV. For identifying important observations, the only obviously inferior linear measure is DSS; the poor performance was expected because DSS does not include the effects of parameter correlation and PCC reveals large parameter correlations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)627-641
Number of pages15
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2007


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