Surrogate-assisted Bayesian inversion for landscape and basin evolution models

Abstract: The complex and computationally expensive nature of landscape evolution models poses significant challenges to the inference and optimization of unknown model parameters. Bayesian inference provides a methodology for estimation and uncertainty quantification of unknown model parameters. In our previous work, we developed parallel tempering Bayeslands as a framework for parameter estimation and uncertainty quantification for the Badlands landscape evolution model. Parallel tempering Bayeslands features high-performance computing that can feature dozens of processing cores running in parallel to enhance computational efficiency. Nevertheless, the procedure remains computationally challenging since thousands of samples need to be drawn and evaluated. In large-scale landscape evolution problems, a single model evaluation can take from several minutes to hours and in some instances, even days or weeks. Surrogate-assisted optimization has been used for several computationally expensive engineering problems which motivate its use in optimization and inference of complex geoscientific models. The use of surrogate models can speed up parallel tempering Bayeslands by developing computationally inexpensive models to mimic expensive ones. In this paper, we apply surrogate-assisted parallel tempering where the surrogate mimics a landscape evolution model by estimating the likelihood function from the model. We employ a neural-network-based surrogate model that learns from the history of samples generated. The entire framework is developed in a parallel computing infrastructure to take advantage of parallelism. The results show that the proposed methodology is effective in lowering the computational cost significantly while retaining the quality of model predictions.

Citation: Chandra, R., Azam, D., Kapoor, A., and Müller, R. D.: Surrogate-assisted Bayesian inversion for landscape and basin evolution models, Geosci. Model Dev., 13, 2959–2979,, 2020.


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