Are modern metaheuristics successful in calibrating simple conceptual rainfall–runoff models?

Adam P. Piotrowski , Maciej Jarosław Napiórkowski , Jaroslaw J. Napiorkowski , Marzena Osuch , Zbigniew W. Kundzewicz


In recent years sampling approaches have been used more widely than optimization algorithms to find parameters of conceptual rainfall–runoff models, but the difficulty of calibration of such models remains in dispute. The problem of finding a set of optimal parameters for conceptual rainfall–runoff models is interpreted differently in various studies, ranging from simple to relatively complex and difficult. In many papers, it is claimed that novel calibration approaches, so-called metaheuristics, outperform the older ones when applied to this task, but contradictory opinions are also plentiful. The present study aims at calibration of two simple lumped conceptual hydrological models, HBV and GR4J, by means of a large number of metaheuristic algorithms. The tests are performed on four catchments located in regions with relatively similar climatic conditions, but on different continents. The comparison shows that, although parameters found may somehow differ, the performance criteria achieved with simple lumped models calibrated by various metaheuristics are very similar and differences are insignificant from the hydrological point of view. However, occasionally some algorithms find slightly better solutions than those found by the vast majority of methods. This means that the problem of calibration of simple lumped HBV or GR4J models may be deceptive from the optimization perspective, as the vast majority of algorithms that follow a common evolutionary principle of survival of the fittest lead to sub-optimal solutions.
Author Adam P. Piotrowski
Adam P. Piotrowski,,
, Maciej Jarosław Napiórkowski ZIBJŚ
Maciej Jarosław Napiórkowski,,
- Department of Informationa Science and Environment Quality Research
, Jaroslaw J. Napiorkowski
Jaroslaw J. Napiorkowski,,
, Marzena Osuch
Marzena Osuch,,
, Zbigniew W. Kundzewicz
Zbigniew W. Kundzewicz,,
Journal seriesHydrological Sciences Journal-Journal Des Sciences Hydrologiques, ISSN 0262-6667
Issue year2016
Publication size in sheets0.95
Keywords in Englishconceptual rainfall–runoff models, HBV, GR4J, evolutionary algorithms, differential evolution, particle swarm optimization
Languageen angielski
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Score (nominal)30
ScoreMinisterial score = 30.0, 28-11-2017, ArticleFromJournal
Ministerial score (2013-2016) = 30.0, 28-11-2017, ArticleFromJournal
Publication indicators WoS Impact Factor: 2016 = 2.222 (2) - 2016=2.372 (5)
Citation count*0
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* presented citation count is obtained through Internet information analysis and it is close to the number calculated by the Publish or Perish system.