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Sensitivity and first-step uncertainty analyses for the preferential flow model MACRO

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JournalJournal of environmental quality
DatePublished - 2002
Issue number1
Number of pages14
Pages (from-to)227-240
Original languageEnglish


Sensitivity analyses for the preferential flow model MACRO were carried out using one-at-a-time and Monte Carlo sampling approaches. Four different scenarios were generated by simulating leaching to depth of two hypothetical pesticides in a sandy loam and a more structured clay loam soil. Sensitivity of the model was assessed using the predictions for accumulated water percolated at a 1-m depth and accumulated pesticide losses in percolation. Results for simulated percolation were similar for the two soils. Predictions of water volumes percolated were found to be only marginally affected by changes in input parameters and the most influential parameter was the water content defining the boundary between micropores and macropores in this dual-porosity model. In contrast, predictions of pesticide losses were found to be dependent on the scenarios considered and to be significantly affected by variations in input parameters. In most scenarios, predictions for pesticide losses by MACRO were most influenced by parameters related to sorption and degradation. Under specific circumstances, pesticide losses can be largely affected by changes in hydrological properties of the soil. Since parameters were varied within ranges that approximated their uncertainty, a first-step assessment of uncertainty for the predictions of pesticide losses was possible. Large uncertainties in the predictions were reported, although these are likely to have been overestimated by considering a large number of input parameters in the exercise. It appears desirable that a probabilistic framework accounting for uncertainty is integrated into the estimation of pesticide exposure for regulatory purposes.

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