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Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Technical note
17 Jul 2017
Review status
This discussion paper is under review for the journal Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (HESS).
A nonparametric approach toward upper bounds to transit time distribution functions
Earl Bardsley School of Science, University of Waikato, Hamilton 3240, New Zealand
Abstract. A nonparametric method is proposed as a possible approach to obtaining upper bounds to distribution functions of time-varying transit times for catchment environmental tracers. A discretization is employed for the tracer throughput process, with tracer input represented as a sequence of K discrete pulses over a given time period. Each input pulse is associated with a different and unknown upper-bounded nonparametric discrete transit time distribution. The model transit time distribution function is therefore a K-component finite mixture of different and unknown discrete distribution functions, weighted by the relative magnitudes of the respective tracer pulses. Upper bounds to this distribution function can be obtained by linear programming to achieve a sequence of K discrete optimised transit time distributions which yield the maximum possible value of tracer fraction less than a given age, subject to a constraint of matching the catchment tracer output time series to some specified linear measure of accuracy. The individual optimised distributions do not estimate actual transit time distributions and the optimisation procedure is not hydrological modelling. This is actually a strength of the methodology in that the true transit time distributions are permitted to be created as a consequence of any time-varying nonlinear catchment process with complete or partial mixing. However, a negative aspect is that the extreme flexibility of K different nonparametric distributions is likely to give transit time distribution functions upper bounds near 1, unless sufficient constraints can be imposed on the form of the individual optimised distributions. There is a possibility, however, that optimising just a single nonparametric L-shaped discrete distribution could yield useful distribution function upper bounds for time-varying situations.

Citation: Bardsley, E.: A nonparametric approach toward upper bounds to transit time distribution functions, Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci. Discuss.,, in review, 2017.
Earl Bardsley
Earl Bardsley
Earl Bardsley


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