Calibration, inversion and sensitivity analysis for hydro-morphodynamic models

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Mariana C A Clare , Stephan C Kramer, Colin J Cotter, Matthew D Piggott


The development of reliable, sophisticated hydro-morphodynamic models is essential for protecting the coastal environment against hazards such as flooding and erosion. There exists a high degree of uncertainty associated with the application of these models, in part due to incomplete knowledge of various physical, empirical and numerical closure related parameters in both the hydrodynamic and morphodynamic solvers. This uncertainty can be addressed through the application of adjoint methods. These have the notable advantage that the number and/or dimension of the uncertain parameters has almost no effect on the computational cost associated with calculating the model sensitivities.

Here, we develop the first freely available and fully flexible adjoint hydro-morphodynamic model framework. This flexibility is achieved through using the pyadjoint library, which allows us to assess the uncertainty of any parameter with respect to any output functional, without further code implementation. The model is developed within the coastal ocean model Thetis constructed using the finite element code-generation library Firedrake. We present examples of how this framework can perform sensitivity analysis, inversion and calibration for a range of uncertain parameters based on the final bedlevel. These results are verified using so-called dual-twin experiments, where the `correct' parameter value is used in the generation of synthetic model test data, but is unknown to the model in subsequent testing. Moreover, we show that inversion and calibration with experimental data using our framework produces physically sensible optimum parameters and that these parameters always lead to more accurate results. In particular, we demonstrate how our adjoint framework can be applied to a tsunami-like event to invert for the tsunami wave from sediment deposits.



Applied Mathematics, Fluid Dynamics, Geomorphology, Numerical Analysis and Computation, Partial Differential Equations, Programming Languages and Compilers


uncertainty, sediment transport, morphology, tsunami inversion


Published: 2021-08-03 17:23

Last Updated: 2021-08-04 00:23


CC BY Attribution 4.0 International

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