Investigating capabilities of machine learning techniques in forecasting streamflow

Syed Kabir, Sandhya Patidar, Gareth Pender

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)
60 Downloads (Pure)


This paper presents a systematic investigation into modelling capacities of three conventional data-driven modelling techniques, namely, wavelet-based artificial neural network (WANN), support vector regression (SVR) and deep belief network (DBN) for multi-step ahead stream flow forecasting. To evaluate the effectiveness of these modelling techniques, hydro-meteorological hourly datasets from three case-study rivers located in the UK have been used. A heuristic performance analysis of the modelling schemes has been conducted by systematically analysing the key statistics that measure magnitude, scatter and density of model errors. Finally, for each of the modelling techniques, the performance deterioration rate in time was estimated. The results show that the SVR model can forecast quite accurately up to one to two hours ahead but its performance deteriorates gradually from three hours onwards. Further it has been found that the WANN model performs better when the overall non-linearity of the system increases, whereas the DBN model appeared to show consistently poor predictive capabilities when compared to the other models presented herein. The authors conclude by stating that, for any selected model, it is possible to use an identical model structure for up to two steps ahead forecasting. Models need to be re-configured beyond that limit.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)69-86
Number of pages18
JournalProceedings of the ICE - Water Management
Issue number2
Early online date28 May 2019
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2020


  • Computational mechanics
  • Hydrology & water resource
  • Statistical analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology


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