Combining the Morris Method and Multiple Error Metrics to Assess Aquifer Characteristics and Recharge in the Lower Ticino Basin, in Italy

by   Emily A. Baker, et al.

Groundwater flow model accuracy is often limited by the uncertainty in model parameters that characterize aquifer properties and aquifer recharge. Aquifer properties such as hydraulic conductivity can have an uncertainty spanning orders of magnitude. Meanwhile, parameters used to configure model boundary conditions can introduce additional uncertainty. In this study, the Morris Method sensitivity analysis is performed on multiple quantities of interest to assess the sensitivity of a steady-state groundwater flow model to uncertain input parameters. The Morris Method determines which of these parameters are less influential on model outputs. Uninfluential parameters can be set constant during subsequent parameter optimization to reduce computational expense. Combining multiple quantities of interest (e.g., RMSE, groundwater fluxes) when performing both the Morris Method and parameter optimization offers a more complete assessment of groundwater models, providing a more reliable and physically consistent estimate of uncertain parameters. The parameter optimization procedure also provides us an estimate of the residual uncertainty in the parameter values, resulting in a more complete estimate of the remaining uncertainty. By employing such techniques, the current study was able to estimate the aquifer hydraulic conductivity and recharge rate due to rice field irrigation in a groundwater basin in Northern Italy, revealing that a significant proportion of surficial aquifer recharge (approximately 81-94 during the later summer is due to the flood irrigation practices applied to these fields.


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