Assistant Professor Receives Editors’ Choice Award from Water Resources Research Journal

Jasper Vrugt’s paper is one of five honored nationally

Assistant Professor Jasper A. Vrugt, Ph.D., Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering with a joint appointment in Earth System Science, co-authored a paper entitled “Optimization and uncertainty assessment of strongly nonlinear groundwater models with high parameter dimensionality, ” that has been awarded an Editors’ Choice Award from the journal Water Resources Research.

The article discusses a proposed methodology for parameter estimation and uncertainty analysis algorithms to understand and predict flow and transport through aquifers. Highly parameterized and computer-intensive groundwater models are increasingly being used to understand and predict flow and transport through aquifers. Despite their frequent use, these models pose significant challenges for parameter estimation and predictive uncertainty analysis algorithms.

In the article, Vrugt and his team presented a general methodology for parameter estimation and uncertainty analysis that can be utilized in these situations. The proposed method includes extraction of a surrogate model that mimics key characteristics of a full process model, followed by testing and implementation of a pragmatic uncertainty analysis technique, called null-space Monte Carlo (NSMC), which merges the strengths of gradient-based search and parameter dimensionality reduction. Experiences gained from the surrogate model analysis are then transferred to calibrate the full highly parameterized and CPU intensive groundwater model and to explore predictive uncertainty of predictions made by that model.

WRR created the Editors’ Choice Award for approximately the top one percent of published articles in a calendar year with the goal of providing professional recognition to scientists and students for their outstanding work. The selection is made by the WRR editors based on technical significance, novelty, originality, presentation and broader implications of the publication. Awards made in a given year are for articles published in the previous calendar year.

The original article was published in Water Resources Research, Vol. 46.