The identifiability of model parameters of a steady state water quality model of the Biebrza River and the resulting variation in model results was examined by applying the Monte Carlo method which combines calibration, identifiability analysis, uncertainty analysis, and sensitivity analysis. The water quality model simulates the steady state concentration profiles of chloride, phosphate, ammonium, and nitrate as a function of distance along a river. The water quality model with the best combination of parameter values simulates the observed concentrations very well. However, the range of possible modelled concentrations obtained for other more or less equally eligible combinations of parameter values is rather wide. This range in model outcomes reflects possible errors in the model parameters. Discrepancies between the range in model outcomes and the validation data set are only caused by errors in model structure, or (measurement) errors in boundary conditions or input variables. In this sense the validation procedure is a test of model capability, where the effects of calibration errors are filtered out. It is concluded that, despite some slight deviations between model outcome and observations, the model is successful in simulating the spatial pattern of nutrient concentrations in the Biebrza River.
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