28 Jul 2023
 | 28 Jul 2023
Status: this preprint is open for discussion.

Flow intermittence prediction using a hybrid hydrological modelling approach: influence of observed intermittence data on the training of a random forest model

Louise Mimeau, Annika Künne, Flora Branger, Sven Kralisch, Alexandre Devers, and Jean-Philippe Vidal

Abstract. Rivers are rich in biodiversity and act as ecological corridors for plant and animal species. With climate change and increasing anthropogenic water demand, more frequent and prolonged periods of drying in river systems are expected, endangering biodiversity and river ecosystems. However, understanding and predicting the hydrological mechanisms that control periodic drying and rewetting in rivers is challenging due to a lack of studies and hydrological observations, particularly in non-perennial rivers. Within the framework of the Horizon 2020 DRYvER (Drying River Networks and Climate Change) project, a hydrological modelling study of flow intermittence in rivers is being carried out in 3 European catchments (Spain, Finland, France) characterized by different climate, geology and anthropogenic use. The objective of this study is to represent the spatio-temporal dynamics of flow intermittence at the reach level in meso-scaled river networks (between 120 km2 and 350 km2). The daily and spatially distributed flow condition (flowing or dry) is predicted using the J2000 distributed hydrological model coupled with a Random Forest classification model. Observed flow condition data from different sources (water level measurements, photo traps, water temperature measurements, citizen science applications) are used to build the predictive model. This study aims to evaluate the impact of the observed flow condition dataset (sample size, spatial and temporal representativity) on the performance of the predictive model. Results show that the hybrid modelling approach developed in this study allows to accurately predict the spatio-temporal patterns of drying in the 3 catchments. This study shows the value of combining different sources of observed flow condition data to reduce the uncertainty in predicting flow intermittence.

Louise Mimeau et al.

Status: open (until 15 Oct 2023)

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Louise Mimeau et al.


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Short summary
Modelling flow intermittence is essential for predicting the future evolution of drying in river networks and better understanding the ecological and socio-economic impacts. However, modelling flow intermittence is challenging and observed data on temporary rivers is scarce. This study presents a new modelling approach for predicting flow intermittence in river networks and shows that combining different sources of observed data reduces the model uncertainty.