Ensemble-Based Neural Network Modeling for Hydrologic Forecasts: Addressing Uncertainty in the Model Structure and Input Variable Selection

Taereem Kim, Ju Young Shin, Hanbeen Kim, Jun Haeng Heo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Artificial neural networks (ANNs) have been extensively used to forecast monthly precipitation for water resources management over the past few decades. Efforts to produce more accurate and stable forecasts face ongoing challenges as the so-called single-ANN (S-ANN) approach has several limitations, particularly regarding uncertainty. Many attempts have been made to deal with different types of uncertainties by applying ensemble approaches. Here, we propose a new ANN ensemble model (ANN-ENS) dealing with uncertainty in model structure and input variable selection to provide a more accurate and stable forecasting performance. This model is structured by generating various input layers, considering all the candidate input variables (i.e.,large-scale climate indices and lagged precipitation). We developed a modified backward elimination method to select the preliminary input variables from all the candidate input variables. Then, we tested and validated the proposed ANN-ENS using observed monthly precipitation from 10 meteorological stations in the Han River basin, South Korea. Our results demonstrated that the ANN-ENS enhanced the forecasting performance in terms of both accuracy and stability. Although a significant uncertainty was introduced by using all the candidate input variables, the forecasting result outperformed S-ANNs for all employed stations. Additionally, the ANN-ENS provided a more stable forecasting performance in comparison with S-ANNs, which are highly sensitive. Moreover, the generated ensemble members were slightly biased at some stations but were generally reliable.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2019WR026262
JournalWater Resources Research
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Jun 1

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) grant funded by the Korea government (MSIT) (2019R1A2C2010854). Monthly precipitation data used in this study are available in the supporting information and can be obtained from the Korea Meteorological Administration (http://www.weather.go.kr/weather/climate/past_table.jsp). Large-scale climate indices used in this study are obtained from the NOAA/ESRL (https://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/data/climateindices/list/).

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Water Science and Technology

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