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Making Sense of Sensitivity Analyses

Source:  Dan Hawkes

Fig. 1. (a) Conceptual model setup for the pressure leakage problem, and (b) ΔP (m) at the observation point.
Hydrogeological modeling under uncertain conditions—from site characterization to prediction—requires not only the numerical or analytical models of flow and transport but also various statistical analyses, including parameter estimation, uncertainty analysis, sensitivity analysis, data worth analysis, and experimental design. Sensitivity analysis is an especially important component in this process, since there is a strong interaction between it and other components. A team of ESD numerical modelers (Haruko Wainwright, Stefan Finsterle, Quanlin Zhou, and Jens Birkholzer) recently compared a local sensitivity analysis method with two global sensitivity analysis methods. To illustrate these methods, they conducted a sensitivity analysis of pressure propagation induced by fluid injection and leakage in a reservoir–aquitard–aquifer system. The results show that the three methods provide consistent parameter importance rankings in this system. Their study also indicates that the three methods can provide additional information to improve system understanding.

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Citation: Wainwright, H.M., S. Finsterle, Y. Jung, Q. Zhou, and J. Birkholzer (2013), Making sense of global sensitivity analyses. Computers and Geosciences, DOI: 0.1016/j.cageo.2013.06.006.

Funding: FE, NRAP, NETL