Application of stochastic parameter optimization to the Sacramento Soil Moisture Accounting model

Jasper A. Vrugt, Hoshin V. Gupta, Stefan C. Dekker, Soroosh Sorooshian, Thorsten Wagener, Willem Bouten

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

85 Scopus citations


Hydrological models generally contain parameters that cannot be measured directly, but can only be meaningfully inferred by calibration against a historical record of input-output data. While considerable progress has been made in the development and application of automatic procedures for model calibration, such methods have received criticism for their lack of rigor in treating uncertainty in the parameter estimates. In this paper, we apply the recently developed Shuffled Complex Evolution Metropolis algorithm (SCEM-UA) to stochastic calibration of the parameters in the Sacramento Soil Moisture Accounting model (SAC-SMA) model using historical data from the Leaf River in Mississippi. The SCEM-UA algorithm is a Markov Chain Monte Carlo sampler that provides an estimate of the most likely parameter set and underlying posterior distribution within a single optimization run. In particular, we explore the relationship between the length and variability of the streamflow data and the Bayesian uncertainty associated with the SAC-SMA model parameters and compare SCEM-UA derived parameter values with those obtained using deterministic SCE-UA calibrations. Most significantly, for the Leaf River catchments under study our results demonstrate that most of the 13 SAC-SMA parameters are well identified by calibration to daily streamflow data suggesting that this data contains more information than has previously been reported in the literature.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)288-307
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Hydrology
Issue number1-4
StatePublished - Jun 30 2006


  • Bayesian statistics
  • Hydrologic model
  • Markov Chain Monte Carlo methods
  • Parameter uncertainty
  • Rainfall-runoff

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology


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