Improved hydrograph prediction through subsurface characterization: Conditional stochastic hillslope simulations

Steven B. Meyerhoff, Reed M. Maxwell, Wendy D. Graham, John L. Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Subsurface heterogeneity is one of the largest sources of uncertainty associated with saturated hydraulic conductivity. Recent work has demonstrated that uncertainty in hydraulic conductivity can impart significant uncertainty in runoff generation processes and surface-water flow. Here, the role of site characterization in reducing hydrograph prediction bias and uncertainty is demonstrated. A fully integrated hydrologic model is used to conduct two sets of stochastic, transient simulation experiments comprising different overland flow mechanisms: Dunne and Hortonian. Conditioning hydraulic conductivity fields using values drawn from a simulated synthetic control case are shown to reduce both mean bias and variance in an ensemble of conditional hydrograph predictions when compared with the control case. The ensemble simulations show a greater reduction in uncertainty in the hydrographs for Hortonian flow. The conditional simulations predict surface ponding and surface pressure distributions with reduced mean error and reduced root mean square error compared with unconditional simulations. Uncertainty reduction in Hortonian and Dunne flow cases demonstrates different temporal signals, with more substantial reduction achieved for Hortonian flow.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1329-1343
Number of pages15
JournalHydrogeology Journal
Issue number6
StatePublished - Sep 2014
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)


  • Groundwater/surface-water relations
  • Numerical modeling
  • Rainfall-runoff


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