EGU General Assembly 2020
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Transfer learning applications in hydrologic modeling

Joseph Hamman1 and Andrew Bennett2
Joseph Hamman and Andrew Bennett
  • 1National Center for Atmospheric Research, Research Applications Laboratory, Seattle, United States of America (
  • 2University of Washington

Early work in the field of Machine Learning (ML) for hydrologic prediction is showing significant potential. Indeed, it has provided important and measurable advances toward prediction in ungauged basins (PUB). At the same time, it has motivated a new research targeting important ML topics such as uncertainty attribution and physical constrains. It has also brought into question how to best harness the wide variety of climatic and hydrologic data available today. In this work, we present initial results employing transfer learning to combine information about meteorology, streamflow, surface fluxes (FluxNet), and snow (SNOTEL) into a state of the art ML-based hydrologic model. Specifically, we will present early work demonstrating how relatively simple implementations of transfer learning can be used to enhance predictions of streamflow by transferring learning from flux and snow station observations to the watershed scale. Our work is shown to extend recently published results from Kratzert et al. (2018) using the CAMELS data set (Newman et al. 2014) for streamflow prediction in North America.

  • Kratzert, F., Klotz, D., Brenner, C., Schulz, K., and Herrnegger, M.: Rainfall–runoff modelling using Long Short-Term Memory (LSTM) networks, Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 22, 6005-6022,, 2018a.
  • Newman; K. Sampson; M. P. Clark; A. Bock; R. J. Viger; D. Blodgett, 2014. A large-sample watershed-scale hydrometeorological dataset for the contiguous USA. Boulder, CO: UCAR/NCAR.

How to cite: Hamman, J. and Bennett, A.: Transfer learning applications in hydrologic modeling, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-11332,, 2020


Display file