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A nonlinear least-squares regression technique for estimation of ground-water flow model parameters was applied to an existing model of the regional aquifer system underlying west-central Florida. The regression technique minimizes the differences between measured and simulated water levels. Regression statistics, including parameter sensitivities and correlations, were calculated for reported parameter values in the existing model. Optimal parameter values for selected hydrologic variables of interest are estimated by nonlinear regression. Optimal estimates of parameter values are about 140 times greater than and about 0.01 times less than reported values. Independently estimating all parameters by nonlinear regression was impossible, given the existing zonation structure and number of observations, because of parameter insensitivity and correlation. Although the model yields parameter values similar to those estimated by other methods and reproduces the measured water levels reasonably accurately, a simpler parameter structure should be considered. Some possible ways of improving model calibration are to: (1) modify the defined parameter-zonation structure by omitting and/or combining parameters to be estimated; (2) carefully eliminate observation data based on evidence that they are likely to be biased; (3) collect additional water-level data; (4) assign values to insensitive parameters, and (5) estimate the most sensitive parameters first, then, using the optimized values for these parameters, estimate the entire data set.
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Application of nonlinear least-squares regression to ground-water flow modeling, west-central Florida