Articles | Volume 6, issue 4
31 Aug 2002
31 Aug 2002

Multi-model data fusion for river flow forecasting: an evaluation of six alternative methods based on two contrasting catchments

R. J. Abrahart and L. See

Abstract. This paper evaluates six published data fusion strategies for hydrological forecasting based on two contrasting catchments: the River Ouse and the Upper River Wye. The input level and discharge estimates for each river comprised a mixed set of single model forecasts. Data fusion was performed using: arithmetic-averaging, a probabilistic method in which the best model from the last time step is used to generate the current forecast, two different neural network operations and two different soft computing methodologies. The results from this investigation are compared and contrasted using statistical and graphical evaluation. Each location demonstrated several options and potential advantages for using data fusion tools to construct superior estimates of hydrological forecast. Fusion operations were better in overall terms in comparison to their individual modelling counterparts and two clear winners emerged. Indeed, the six different mechanisms on test revealed unequal aptitudes for fixing different categories of problematic catchment behaviour and, in such cases, the best method(s) were a good deal better than their closest rival(s). Neural network fusion of differenced data provided the best solution for a stable regime (with neural network fusion of original data being somewhat similar) — whereas a fuzzified probabilistic mechanism produced a superior output in a more volatile environment. The need for a data fusion research agenda within the hydrological sciences is discussed and some initial suggestions are presented.

Keywords: data fusion, fuzzy logic, neural network, hydrological modelling