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Significance and Use
After a model has been calibrated and used to draw conclusions about a physical hydrogeologic system (for example, estimating the capture zone of a proposed extraction well), a sensitivity analysis can be performed to identify which model inputs have the most impact on the degree of calibration and on the conclusions of the modeling analysis.
If variations in some model inputs result in insignificant changes in the degree of calibration but cause significantly different conclusions, then the mere fact of having used a calibrated model does not mean that the conclusions of the modeling study are valid.
This guide is not meant to be an inflexible description of techniques of performing a sensitivity analysis; other techniques may be applied as appropriate and, after due consideration, some of the techniques herein may be omitted, altered, or enhanced.
1.1 This guide covers techniques that should be used to conduct a sensitivity analysis for a groundwater flow model. The sensitivity analysis results in quantitative relationships between model results and the input hydraulic properties or boundary conditions of the aquifers.
1.2 After a groundwater flow model has been calibrated, a sensitivity analysis may be performed. Examination of the sensitivity of calibration residuals and model conclusions to model inputs is a method for assessing the adequacy of the model with respect to its intended function.
1.3 After a model has been calibrated, a modeler may vary the value of some aspect of the conditions applying solely to the prediction simulations in order to satisfy some design criteria. For example, the number and locations of proposed pumping wells may be varied in order to minimize the required discharge. Insofar as these aspects are controllable, variation of these parameters is part of an optimization procedure, and, for the purposes of this guide, would not be considered to be a sensitivity analysis. On the other hand, estimates of future conditions that are not controllable, such as the recharge during a postulated drought of unknown duration and severity, would be considered as candidates for a sensitivity analysis.
1.4 This guide presents the simplest acceptable techniques for conducting a sensitivity analysis. Other techniques have been developed by researchers and could be used in lieu of the techniques in this guide.
1.5 This guide is written for performing sensitivity analyses for groundwater flow models. However, these techniques could be applied to other types of groundwater related models, such as analytical models, multi-phase flow models, non-continuum (karst or fracture flow) models, or mass transport models.
1.6 This guide is one of a series on groundwater modeling codes (software) and their applications, such as Guide D5447 and Guide D5490. Other standards have been prepared on environmental modeling, such as Practice E978.
1.7 The values stated in inch-pound units are to be regarded as standard. The values given in parentheses are mathematical conversions to SI units that are provided for information only and are not considered standard.
1.8 This standard does not purport to address all of the safety concerns, if any, associated with its use. It is the responsibility of the user of this standard to establish appropriate safety and health practices and determine the applicability of regulatory limitations prior to use.
1.9 This guide offers an organized collection of information or a series of options and does not recommend a specific course of action. This document cannot replace education or experience and should be used in conjunction with professional judgment. Not all aspects of this guide may be applicable in all circumstances. This ASTM standard is not intended to represent or replace the standard of care by which the adequacy of a given professional service must be judged, nor should this document be applied without consideration of a project's many unique aspects. The word “Standard” in the title of this document means only that the document has been approved through the ASTM consensus process.
2. Referenced Documents (purchase separately) The documents listed below are referenced within the subject standard but are not provided as part of the standard.
D653 Terminology Relating to Soil, Rock, and Contained Fluids
D5447 Guide for Application of a Groundwater Flow Model to a Site-Specific Problem
D5490 Guide for Comparing Ground-Water Flow Model Simulations to Site-Specific Information
E978 Practice for Evaluating Mathematical Models for the Environmental Fate of Chemicals
ICS Number Code 13.060.10 (Water of natural resources)
ASTM D5611-94(2008), Standard Guide for Conducting a Sensitivity Analysis for a Groundwater Flow Model Application, ASTM International, West Conshohocken, PA, 2008, www.astm.orgBack to Top