ML-SWAN-v1: a hybrid machine learning framework for the concentration prediction and discovery of transport pathways of surface water nutrients

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Nutrient data from catchments discharging to re-ceiving waters are monitored for catchment management. However, nutrient data are often sparse in time and space and have non-linear responses to environmental factors, mak-ing it difficult to systematically analyse long- and short-term trends and undertake nutrient budgets. To address these chal-lenges, we developed a hybrid machine learning (ML) frame-work that first separated baseflow and quickflow from total flow, generated data for missing nutrient species, and then utilised the pre-generated nutrient data as additional vari-ables in a final simulation of tributary water quality. Hybrid random forest (RF) and gradient boosting machine (GBM) models were employed and their performance compared with a linear model, a multivariate weighted regression model, and stand-alone RF and GBM models that did not pre-generate nutrient data. The six models were used to predict six dif-ferent nutrients discharged from two study sites in Western Australia: Ellen Brook (small and ephemeral) and the Mur-ray River (large and perennial). Our results showed that the hybrid RF and GBM models had significantly higher accu-racy and lower prediction uncertainty for almost all nutri-ent species across the two sites. The pre-generated nutri-ent and hydrological data were highlighted as the most im-portant components of the hybrid model. The model results also indicated different hydrological transport pathways for total nitrogen (TN) export from two tributary catchments. We demonstrated that the hybrid model provides a flexible method to combine data of varied resolution and quality and is accurate for the prediction of responses of surface water nutrient concentrations to hydrologic variability.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages19
JournalGeoscientific Model Development
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 15 Sep 2020

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'ML-SWAN-v1: a hybrid machine learning framework for the concentration prediction and discovery of transport pathways of surface water nutrients'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this