We present a thorough identifiability analysis of the soil hydraulic parameters in the parametric models of Brooks and Corey (BC; Brooks and Corey, 1964), Mualem–van Genuchten (VG; van Genuchten, 1980), and Kosugi (KC; Kosugi, 1996, 1999) using the recently developed Shuffled Complex Evolution Metropolis (SCEM-UA) algorithm (Vrugt et al., 2002b, and unpublished data). Because the SCEM-UA algorithm globally thoroughly exploits the parameter space and therefore explicitly accounts for parameter interdependence and nonlinearity of the employed parametric models, the algorithm is suited to generate a useful description of parameter uncertainty and its antithesis, parameter identifiability. A set of measured water retention characteristics of the UNSODA database (Leij et al., 1996) spanning a wide range of soil textures and three transient laboratory outflow experiments with decreasing flow rates were used to illustrate that a parameter identifiability analysis facilitates the selection of an adequate parametric model structure and provides useful information about the limitations of a model. Moreover, results suggest that one should be especially careful in establishing pedotransfer functions without knowledge of the underlying posterior uncertainty associated with the soil hydraulic parameters using direct estimation methods.

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