Estimation and Impact Assessment of Input and Parameter Uncertainty in Predicting Groundwater Flow With a Fully Distributed Model

Syed Md Touhidul Mustafa*, Jiri Nossent, Gert Ghysels, Marijke Huysmans

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Citations (Scopus)


We present a general and flexible Bayesian approach using uncertainty multipliers to simultaneously analyze the input and parameter uncertainty of a groundwater flow model with consideration of the heteroscedasticity of the groundwater level error. Groundwater recharge and groundwater abstraction multipliers are introduced to quantify the uncertainty of the spatially distributed input data of the groundwater model in addition to parameter uncertainty. The heteroscedasticity of the groundwater level error is also considered in our Bayesian approach by incorporating a new heteroscedastic error model. The proposed methodology is applied in an overexploited aquifer in Bangladesh where groundwater abstraction and recharge data are highly uncertain. The results of the study confirm that consideration of recharge and abstraction uncertainty through the use of recharge and abstraction multipliers is feasible even in a fully distributed physically based groundwater flow model. Heteroscedasticity is present in the groundwater level error and has an effect on the model predictions and parameter distributions. The input uncertainty affects the model predictions and parameter distributions and it is the dominant source of uncertainty in the groundwater flow prediction. Additionally, the approach described also provides a new way to optimize the spatially distributed recharge and abstraction data along with the parameter values under uncertain input conditions. We conclude that considering model input uncertainty along with parameter uncertainty and heteroscedasticity of the groundwater level error is important for obtaining realistic model predictions and a correct estimation of the uncertainty bounds.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6585-6608
Number of pages24
JournalWater Resources Research
Issue number9
Early online date19 Sep 2018
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2018



  • Bayesian approach
  • fully distributed
  • groundwater flow model
  • heteroscedasticity
  • input uncertainty
  • uncertainty quantification

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology

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