River flow modelling: comparison of performance and evaluation of uncertainty using data-driven models and conceptual hydrological model Academic Article uri icon


  • © 2018, Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature. Hydrological and statistical models are playing an increasing role in hydrological forecasting, particularly for river basins with data of different temporal scales. In this study, statistical models, e.g. artificial neural networks, adaptive network-based fuzzy inference system, genetic programming, least squares support vector machine, multiple linear regression, were developed, based on parametric optimization methods such as particle swarm optimization (PSO), genetic algorithm (GA), and data-preprocessing techniques such as wavelet decomposition (WD) for river flow modelling using daily streamflow data from four hydrological stations for a period of 1954–2009. These models were used for 1-, 3- and 5-day streamflow forecasting and the better model was used for uncertainty evaluation using bootstrap resampling method. Meanwhile, a simple conceptual hydrological model GR4J was used to evaluate parametric uncertainty based on generalized likelihood uncertainty estimation method. Results indicated that: (1) GA and PSO did not help improve the forecast performance of the model. However, the hybrid model with WD significantly improved the forecast performance; (2) the hybrid model with WD as a data preprocessing procedure can clarify hydrological effects of water reservoirs and can capture peak high/low flow changes; (3) Forecast accuracy of data-driven models is significantly influenced by the availability of streamflow data. More human interferences from the upper to the lower East River basin can help to introduce greater uncertainty in streamflow forecasts; (4) The structure of GR4J may introduce larger parametric uncertainty at the Longchuan station than at the Boluo station in the East river basin. This study provides a theoretical background for data-driven model-based streamflow forecasting and a comprehensive view about data and parametric uncertainty in data-scarce river basins.

author list (cited authors)

  • Zhang, Z., Zhang, Q., Singh, V. P., & Shi, P.

citation count

  • 15

publication date

  • March 2018