Artificial intelligence techniques in flood forecasting

  • Gustavo Cerda-Villafana

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Abstract The need for reliable, easy to set up and operate, hydrological forecasting systems is an appealing challenge to researchers working in the area of flood risk management. Currently, advancements in computing technology have provided water engineering with powerful tools in modelling hydrological processes, among them, Artificial Neural Networks (ANN) and genetic algorithms (GA). These have been applied in many case studies with different level of success. Despite the large amount of work published in this field so far, it is still a challenge to use ANN models reliably in a real-time operational situation. This thesis is set to explore new ways in improving the accuracy and reliability of ANN in hydrological modelling. The study is divided into four areas: signal preprocessing, integrated GA, schematic application of weather radar data, and multiple input in flow routing. In signal preprocessing, digital filters were adopted to process the raw rainfall data before they are fed into ANN models. This novel technique demonstrated that significant improvement in modelling could be achieved. A GA, besides finding the best parameters of the ANN architecture, defined the moving average values for previous rainfall and flow data used as one of the inputs to the model. A distributed scheme was implemented to construct the model exploiting radar rainfall data. The results from weather radar rainfall were not as good as the results from raingauge estimations which were used for comparison. Multiple input has been carried out modelling a river junction with excellent results and an extraction pump with results not so promising. Two conceptual models for flow routing modelling and a transfer function model for rainfall-runoff modelling have been used to compare the ANN model's performance, which was close to the estimations generated by the conceptual models and better than the transfer function model. The flood forecasting system implemented in East Anglia by the Environment Agency, and the NERC HYREX project have been the main data sources to test the model.
Date of Award2005
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorIan Cluckie (Supervisor)

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