Rediscovering the Great Depression

A few months ago, one of my colleagues wanted my help. He wanted me to create a very simple model -- this was so that he could show that the more complex models that everybody uses in hydrology were actually necessary. Essentially, I was to create a model that would take a dive.

I've done lots of things involving severe storms, but nothing involving hydrology. So, I was excited, got into it and came up with a simple model that was nevertheless quite good. It sure wasn't going to take a dive. By god, it would put up a fight.

And today, I presented the paper. I talked about the problem (an I/O formulation doesn't work), my idea (a finite impulse response function) and how I approached the non-linear optimization (a combination of genetic algorithms and linear regression). Then, on to the results which demonstrated a very good fit on the independent test event which happened to be an extreme event.

Pretty proud of it all, I then opened the floor to questions. The first question was really a comment. "You seem to have rediscovered the unit hydrograph," the audience member remarked, "which has been known since the 1930s."

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