A new approach to visualizing time-varying sensitivity indices for environmental model diagnostics across evaluation time-scales

Carolina Massmann*, Thorsten Wagener, Hubert Holzmann

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


Assessing the time-varying sensitivity of environmental models has become a common approach to understand both the value of different data periods for estimating specific parameters, and as part of a diagnostic analysis of the model structure itself (i.e. whether dominant processes are emerging in the model at the right times and over the appropriate time periods). It is not straightforward to visualize these results though, given that the window size over which the time-varying sensitivity is best integrated generally varies for different parameters. In this short communication we present a new approach to visualizing such time-varying sensitivity across time scales of integration. As a case study, we estimate first order sensitivity indices with the FAST (Fourier Amplitude Sensitivity Test) method for a typical conceptual rainfall-runoff model. The resulting plots can guide data selection for model calibration, support diagnostic model evaluation and help to define the timing and length of spot gauging campaigns in places where long-term calibration data are not yet available. (C) 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)190-194
Number of pages5
JournalEnvironmental Modelling and Software
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2014


  • Global sensitivity analysis
  • FAST
  • Sensitivity indices visualization

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