Exploring the Adequacy of Steady-State-Only Calibration

Catherine R. Moore, John Doherty

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
48 Downloads (Pure)


This paper explores the adequacy of steady-state-only calibration as a precursor to use of a groundwater model for decision-support. First, it reviews metrics by which a decision-support model should be judged. On the basis of these metrics, it establishes the shortcomings that a decision-support model may incur through foregoing transient calibration. These are 1) failure to reduce the uncertainties of management-salient model predictions to the extent that available data allows, and 2) creation of unquantifiable bias in management-salient predictions. Two methodologies for quantification of these deficiencies are proposed. The first of these addresses uncertainty reduction. This is relatively easy to implement, as it requires only that sensitivities of pertinent model outputs to a model’s parameters be calculated. The second methodology addresses predictive bias. Implementation of this second methodology is more expensive as it requires repeated calibration of a steady state model against stochastic realizations of a transient model.These methods are demonstrated using a synthetic case which explores the viability of steady-state-only calibration of models deployed to examine the impacts of pumping on stream flows and groundwater levels. It is demonstrated that, for some predictions of management interest, steady-state-only calibration is more than sufficient for this kind of decision-support modelling.

Original languageEnglish
Article number692671
Number of pages17
JournalFrontiers in Earth Science
Publication statusPublished - 3 Sept 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • calibration4
  • decision-support6
  • risk assessment2
  • simplification3
  • Australia
  • uncertainty1


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