Computer Aided Numerical Methods for Hydrological Model Calibration: An Overview and Recent Development

  • Guangyuan KanEmail author
  • Xiaoyan He
  • Jiren Li
  • Liuqian Ding
  • Yang Hong
  • Hongbin Zhang
  • Ke Liang
  • Mengjie Zhang
Original Paper


In this paper, the computer aided numerical method for hydrological model calibration is reviewed. The content includes review of the watershed hydrological models (data-driven model, conceptual model, and distributed model), review of the model calibration methods (manual calibration, single-objective automatic calibration, multi-objective automatic calibration, objective function, termination criterion, and data utilized for calibration), and review of the parallel computing accelerated model calibration (multi-node computer cluster, multi-core CPU, many-core GPU, and heterogeneous parallel computing). Recent development and the state-of-the-art are also analyzed. Three conclusions can be drawn: (1) Nowadays, different types of hydrological models have their own application fields and perform very well. Distributed hydrological model becomes the development direction and has a good future. (2) Computer aided automatic hydrological model calibration method has become the mainstream. Single-objective optimization method such as SCE-UA and multi-objective optimization method such as NSGA-II are very suitable to the model parameter calibration. (3) Heterogeneous parallel computing technology is the most powerful acceleration method for the hydrological model parameter calibration. However, researches about the acceleration of SCE-UA and NSGA-II based on heterogeneous parallel computing technique is rare and should be focused in the future.



This research was funded by the China Postdoctoral Science Foundation (2016M600096), IWHR Research & Development Support Program (JZ0145B052016), Research on Key Technologies of Real Time Dynamic Control of Water Level in Flood Season of Cascade Reservoirs (KY1734), Construction Project of Shaanxi Province Medium and Small River Hydrological Monitoring and Forecast System - Construction of Guanzhong and North of Shaanxi Flood Forecast Scheme (JZ0205A112015), the Third Sub-Project: Flood Forecasting, Controlling and Flood Prevention Aided Software Development - Flood Control Early Warning Communication System and Flood Forecasting, Controlling and Flood Prevention Aided Software Development for Poyang Lake Area of Jiangxi Province (0628-136006104242, JZ0205A432013, SLXMB200902), Major International (Regional) Joint Research Project - China's Water and Food Security under Extreme Climate Change Impact: Risk Assessment and Resilience (G0305, 7141101024), International Project (71461010701), Study of Distributed Flood Risk Forecast Model and Technology Based on Multi-source Data Integration and Hydro Meteorological Coupling System (2013CB036406), China National Flash Flood Disaster Prevention and Control Project (126301001000150068), and National Key Research and Development Plan (2016YFC0803107). We gratefully acknowledge the support of NVIDIA Corporation with the donation of the Tesla K40 GPU used for this research.


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Copyright information

© US Government 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Guangyuan Kan
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Xiaoyan He
    • 1
  • Jiren Li
    • 1
  • Liuqian Ding
    • 1
  • Yang Hong
    • 2
    • 3
  • Hongbin Zhang
    • 1
  • Ke Liang
    • 4
  • Mengjie Zhang
    • 5
  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Simulation and Regulation of Water Cycle in River Basin, Research Center on Flood & Drought Disaster Reduction of the Ministry of Water ResourcesChina Institute of Water Resources and Hydropower ResearchBeijingPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.State Key Laboratory of Hydroscience and Engineering, Department of Hydraulic EngineeringTsinghua UniversityBeijingPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.Department of Civil Engineering and Environmental ScienceUniversity of OklahomaNormanUSA
  4. 4.College of Hydrology and Water ResourcesHohai UniversityNanjingPeople’s Republic of China
  5. 5.State Key Laboratory of Simulation and Regulation of Water Cycle in River Basin, Department of Water Resources (DWR)China Institute of Water Resources and Hydropower ResearchBeijingPeople’s Republic of China

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