A Hybrid Surrogate Modelling Strategy for Simplification of Detailed Urban Drainage Simulators

Mahmood Mahmoodian, Juan Pablo Carbajal, Vasilis Bellos, Ulrich Leopold, Georges Schutz, Francois Clemens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)
22 Downloads (Pure)


Urban drainage modelling typically requires development of highly detailed simulators due to the nature of various underlying surface and drainage processes, which makes them computationally too expensive. Application of such simulators is still challenging in activities such as real-time control (RTC), uncertainty quantification analysis or model calibration in which numerous simulations are required. The focus of this paper is to present a rather simple hybrid surrogate modelling (or emulation) strategy to simplify and accelerate a detailed urban drainage simulator (UDS). The proposed surrogate modelling strategy includes: a) identification of the variables to be emulated; b) development of a simplified conceptual model in which every component contributing to the variables identified in step (a) is replaced by a function; c) definition of these functions, either based on knowledge about the mechanisms of the simulator, or based on the data produced by the simulator; and finally, d) validation of the results produced by the surrogate model in comparison with the original detailed simulator. Herein, a detailed InfoWorks ICM simulator was selected for surrogate modelling. The case study area was a small urban drainage network in Luxembourg. An emulator was developed to map the rainfall time series, as input, to a storage tank volume and combined sewer overflow (CSO) in the case study network. The results showed that the introduced strategy provides a reliable method to simplify the simulator and reduce its run time significantly. For the specific case study, the emulator was approximately 1300 times faster than the original detailed simulator. For quantification of the emulation error, an ensemble of 500 rainfall scenarios with 1 month duration was generated by application of a multivariate autoregressive model for conditional simulation of rainfall time series. The results produced by the emulator were compared to the ones produced by the simulator. Finally, as an indicator of the emulation error, distributions of Nash-Sutcliffe efficiency (NSE) between the emulator and simulator results for prediction of storage tank volume and CSO flow time series were presented.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5241-5256
Number of pages16
JournalWater Resources Management
Issue number15
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Combined sewer overflow (CSO)
  • Emulator
  • Model simplification
  • Surrogate model
  • Urban drainage


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