Are we unnecessarily constraining the agility of complex process-based models?

Pablo A. Mendoza, Martyn P. Clark, Michael Barlage, Balaji Rajagopalan, Luis Samaniego, Gab Abramowitz, Hoshin Vijai Gupta

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

74 Scopus citations

Abstract

In this commentary we suggest that hydrologists and land-surface modelers may be unnecessarily constraining the behavioral agility of very complex physics-based models. We argue that the relatively poor performance of such models can occur due to restrictions on their ability to refine their portrayal of physical processes, in part because of strong a priori constraints in: (i) the representation of spatial variability and hydrologic connectivity, (ii) the choice of model parameterizations, and (iii) the choice of model parameter values. We provide a specific example of problems associated with strong a priori constraints on parameters in a land surface model. Moving forward, we assert that improving hydrological models requires integrating the strengths of the "physics-based" modeling philosophy (which relies on prior knowledge of hydrologic processes) with the strengths of the "conceptual" modeling philosophy (which relies on data driven inference). Such integration will accelerate progress on methods to define and discriminate among competing modeling options, which should be ideally incorporated in agile modeling frameworks and tested through a diagnostic evaluation approach.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)716-728
Number of pages13
JournalWater Resources Research
Volume51
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2015

Keywords

  • hydrology
  • model agility
  • process-based models
  • sensitivity analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Are we unnecessarily constraining the agility of complex process-based models?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this

    Mendoza, P. A., Clark, M. P., Barlage, M., Rajagopalan, B., Samaniego, L., Abramowitz, G., & Gupta, H. V. (2015). Are we unnecessarily constraining the agility of complex process-based models? Water Resources Research, 51(1), 716-728. https://doi.org/10.1002/2014WR015820