Bayesian Calibration and Validation of a Large-Scale and Time-Demanding Sediment Transport Model

Felix Beckers, Andrés Heredia, Markus Noack, Wolfgang Nowak, Silke Wieprecht, Sergey Oladyshkin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


This study suggests a stochastic Bayesian approach for calibrating and validating morphodynamic sediment transport models and for quantifying parametric uncertainties in order to alleviate limitations of conventional (manual, deterministic) calibration procedures. The applicability of our method is shown for a large-scale (11.0 km) and time-demanding (9.14 hr for the period 2002–2013) 2-D morphodynamic sediment transport model of the Lower River Salzach and for three most sensitive input parameters (critical Shields parameter, grain roughness, and grain size distribution). Since Bayesian methods require a significant number of simulation runs, this work proposes to construct a surrogate model, here with the arbitrary polynomial chaos technique. The surrogate model is constructed from a limited set of runs (n=20) of the full complex sediment transport model. Then, Monte Carlo-based techniques for Bayesian calibration are used with the surrogate model (105 realizations in 4 hr). The results demonstrate that following Bayesian principles and iterative Bayesian updating of the surrogate model (10 iterations) enables to identify the most probable ranges of the three calibration parameters. Model verification based on the maximum a posteriori parameter combination indicates that the surrogate model accurately replicates the morphodynamic behavior of the sediment transport model for both calibration (RMSE = 0.31 m) and validation (RMSE = 0.42 m). Furthermore, it is shown that the surrogate model is highly effective in lowering the total computational time for Bayesian calibration, validation, and uncertainty analysis. As a whole, this provides more realistic calibration and validation of morphodynamic sediment transport models with quantified uncertainty in less time compared to conventional calibration procedures.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2019WR026966
JournalWater Resources Research
Issue number7
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to thank the German Research Foundation (DFG) for their financial support of the project through the Cluster of Excellence ?Data-Integrated Simulation Science? (EXC 2075) at the University of Stuttgart. The data used in this study were provided by the water authority Traunstein (WWA Traunstein) and the state government of Salzburg (ASL Salzburg).

Publisher Copyright:
©2020. The Authors.

Copyright 2020 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • arbitrary polynomial chaos expansion
  • Bayesian updating
  • Lower River Salzach
  • sediment transport modeling
  • surrogate model
  • uncertainty analysis


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