Accuracy and reliability of numerical river models

C.B. Vreugdenhil

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    8 Citations (Scopus)


    Over the last 20 years, our possibilities to model river flows numerically have increased enormously. In this paper, the question is addressed whether a more sophisticated model is always better than a simpler one. Increased detail, both in finer resolution and in physical processes taken into account, has its price in more computer time, higher data need, and perhaps more unknown coefficients to be calibrated. Moreover, uncertainty in actual physical conditions (e.g., bottom roughness), inflow and parameters remains, which may dominate the uncertainty of the results. Also, the questions asked by a decision maker may not always be very precise. For a schematic but relevant example, we show that a better model does not necessarily give more reliable results because some of the basic uncertainties remain. It is concluded that we should use the simplest model that will answer the question as to the accuracy needed, taking into account uncertainties in the data.
    Original languageUndefined
    Pages (from-to)1083-1095
    JournalJournal of the American Water Resources Association
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 2002


    • METIS-204498
    • IR-58442

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