Clustering of heterogeneous precipitation fields for the assessment and possible improvement of lumped neural network models for streamflow forecasts
Abstract. This work addresses the issue of better considering the heterogeneity of precipitation fields within lumped rainfall-runoff models where only areal mean precipitation is usually used as an input. A method using a Kohonen neural network is proposed for the clustering of precipitation fields. The evaluation and improvement of the performance of a lumped rainfall-runoff model for one-day ahead predictions is then established based on this clustering. Multilayer perceptron neural networks are employed as lumped rainfall-runoff models. The Bas-en-Basset watershed in France, which is equipped with 23 rain gauges with data for a 21-year period, is employed as the application case. The results demonstrate the relevance of the proposed clustering method, which produces groups of precipitation fields that are in agreement with the global climatological features affecting the region, as well as with the topographic constraints of the watershed (i.e., orography). The strengths and weaknesses of the rainfall-runoff models are highlighted by the analysis of their performance vis-à-vis the clustering of precipitation fields. The results also show the capability of multilayer perceptron neural networks to account for the heterogeneity of precipitation, even when built as lumped rainfall-runoff models.