Calibrating a watershed simulation model involving human interference: An application of multi-objective genetic algorithms

Mohamad I. Hejazi, Ximing Cai, Deva K. Borah

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We calibrate a storm-event distributed hydrologic model to a watershed, in which runoff is significantly affected by reservoir storage and release, using a multi-objective genetic algorithm (NSGA-II). This paper addresses the following questions: What forms of the objective (fitness) function used in the optimization model will result in a better calibration? How does the error in reservoir release caused by neglected human interference or the imprecise storage-release function affect the calibration? Reservoir release is studied as a specific (and popular) form of human interference. Two procedures for handling reservoir releases are tested and compared: (1) treating reservoir releases to be solely determined by the hydraulic structure (predefined storage or stage-discharge relations) as if perfect, a procedure usually adopted in watershed model calibration; or (2) adding reservoir releases that are determined by the storage-discharge relation to an error term. The error term encompasses a time-variant human interference and a discharge function error, and is determined through an optimization-based calibration procedure, It is found that the calibration procedure with consideration of human interference not only results in a better match of modeled and observed hydrograph, but also more reasonable model parameters in terms of their spatial distribution and the robustness of the parameter values.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)97-111
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Hydroinformatics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2008


  • Automatic callibration
  • Genetic algorithms
  • Human interference
  • Multi-objective optimization
  • Rainfall-runoff modeling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Atmospheric Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Calibrating a watershed simulation model involving human interference: An application of multi-objective genetic algorithms'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this