Daniel Bittner, Steven Mattis, Barbara Wohlmuth, Gabriele Chiogna and I worked hard on the validation of Daniel’s model by studying parameter relationships in certain synthetic aquifer scenarios. We exploited parameter sensitivities to gain insight in the model’s behavior and to understand, explain, and confirm hydrological consequences.
I am happy for Daniel having his model validated quite auspiciously and getting such nice results.
Abstract. Hydrological models of karst aquifers are often semi-distributed, and physical processes such as infiltration and spring discharge generation are described in a lumped way. Several works have previously addressed the problems associated with the calibration of such models, highlighting in particular the issue of model parameter estimation and model equifinality. In this work, we investigate the problem of model calibration using the active subspace (AS) method, a novel tool for model parameter dimension reduction. We apply the method to a newly proposed hydrological model for karst aquifers, LuKARS, to investigate if the AS framework identifies catchment-specific characteristics or if the results only depend on the chosen model structure. Therefore, we consider four different case studies, three synthetic and one real case (Kerschbaum springshed in Waidhofen a.d. Ybbs, Austria), with varying hydrotope distributions and properties. We find that both the hydrotope area coverage and the catchment characteristics have major impacts on parameter sensitivities. While model parameters are similarly informed in scenarios with less varying catchment characteristics, we find significant differences in parameter sensitivities when the applied hydrotopes were different from each other. Our results show that the AS method can be used to investigate the relation between the model structure, the area of a hydrotope, the physical properties of a catchment and the discharge data. Finally, we successfully effectively reduce the parameter dimensions of the LuKARS model for the Kerschbaum case study using the AS method. The model with reduced parameter dimensions is able to reproduce the observed impacts of land use changes in the Kerschbaum springshed, highlighting the robustness of the hydrotope-based modeling approach of LuKARS and its applicability for land use change impact studies in karstic systems.