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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


item Garbrecht, Jurgen

Submitted to: Journal Hydrologic Engineering
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/14/2005
Publication Date: 9/1/2006
Citation: Garbrecht, J.D. 2006. Comparison of three alternative ann designs for monthly rainfall-runoff simultation. Journal Hydrologic Engineering. 11(5):502-505.

Interpretive Summary: Previous studies have shown that a new computer tool, called Artificial Neural Network (ANN), was well suited for simulation of watershed runoff. ANNs "learn" from examples and develop relationships between user provided rainfall and runoff values, which can then be used to predict watershed runoff for forecasted rainfall. However, the predictive capabilities of an ANN depend very much on the selection of appropriate input variables and configuration in which they are presented to the ANN. In this study, three configurations of input variables for rainfall-runoff simulation are investigated. Testing was conducted on a medium size watershed in central Oklahoma. The results show that a separate ANN for each calendar month was the best configuration for month-to-month, as well as year-round, runoff simulation. The study confirms the importance of proper input variable configuration and proposes a configuration that displayed high predictive capabilities for monthly rainfall-runoff simulation for medium sized watersheds and sub-humid climates typical of the southern Great Plains.

Technical Abstract: The quality of rainfall-runoff simulation by Artificial Neural Networks (ANN) very much depends on the selection of appropriate input variables and design of the neural network. Here, the performance of three ANN designs that account differently for the effects of seasonal rainfall and runoff regime are investigated for their ability to simulate monthly rainfall-runoff on an 815 km2 watershed in central Oklahoma. Performance was measured in terms of coefficient of determination of the linear regression between observed versus simulated runoff, slope and intercept of the regression, Nash-Sutcliffe efficiency coefficient, and flow duration curves. The ANN design that accounted explicitly for seasonal regime of rainfall and runoff performed best by all performance measures. Explicit representation of seasonal regime was achieved by use of a separate ANN for each calendar month. While such a design limits the amount of training and test data, simulation results were superior in a month-by-month, year-round, and time series evaluation. Average coefficient of determination for the month-by-month evaluation was 0.83, for the year-round evaluation it was 0.87, and the Nash-Sutcliffe efficiency coefficient for the time series evaluation was 0.79 However, all three ANN designs displayed an average regression slope slightly under 1 and positive intercept, pointing to a tendency to under-predict high and over-predict low runoff values. A simple post-ANN runoff correction was proposed to reduce the noted under/over prediction tendency.

Last Modified: 10/19/2017
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