EGU General Assembly 2021
© Author(s) 2021. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

The Impact of Land Cover Data on Rainfall-Runoff Prediction Using an Entity-Aware-LSTM

Sebastian Drost1, Fabian Netzel2, Andreas Wytzisk-Ahrens1, and Christoph Mudersbach2
Sebastian Drost et al.
  • 1Department of Geodesy, Bochum University of Applied Sciences, Bochum, Germany (
  • 2Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Hydraulic Engineering and Hydromechanics Section (LWH), Bochum University of Applied Sciences, Bochum, Germany (

The application of Deep Learning methods for modelling rainfall-runoff have reached great advances in the last years. Especially, long short-term memory (LSTM) networks have gained enhanced attention for time-series prediction. The architecture of this special kind of recurrent neural network is optimized for learning long-term dependencies from large time-series datasets. Thus, different studies proved the applicability of LSTM networks for rainfall-runoff predictions and showed, that they are capable of outperforming other types of neural networks (Hu et al., 2018).

Understanding the impact of land-cover changes on rainfall-runoff dynamics is an important task. Such a hydrological modelling problem typically is solved with process-based models by varying model-parameters related to land-cover-incidents at different points in time. Kratzert et al. (2019) proposed an adaption of the standard LSTM architecture, called Entity-Aware-LSTM (EA-LSTM), which can take static catchment attributes as input features to overcome the regional modelling problem and provides a promising approach for similar use cases. Hence, our contribution aims to analyse the suitability of EA-LSTM for assessing the effect of land-cover changes.

In different experimental setups, we train standard LSTM and EA-LSTM networks for multiple small subbasins, that are associated to the Wupper region in Germany. Gridded daily precipitation data from the REGNIE dataset (Rauthe et al., 2013), provided by the German Weather Service (DWD), is used as model input to predict the daily discharge for each subbasin. For training the EA-LSTM we use land cover information from the European CORINE Land Cover (CLC) inventory as static input features. The CLC inventory includes Europe-wide timeseries of land cover in 44 classes as well as land cover changes for different time periods (Büttner, 2014). The percentage proportion of each land cover class within a subbasin serves as static input features. To evaluate the impact of land cover data on rainfall-runoff prediction, we compare the results of the EA-LSTM with those of the standard LSTM considering different statistical measures as well as the Nash–Sutcliffe efficiency (NSE).

In addition, we test the ability of the EA-LSTM to outperform physical process-based models. For this purpose, we utilize existing and calibrated hydrological models within the Wupper basin to simulate discharge for each subbasin. Finally, performance metrics of the calibrated model are used as benchmarks for assessing the performance of the EA-LSTM model.


Büttner, G. (2014). CORINE Land Cover and Land Cover Change Products. In: Manakos & M. Braun (Hrsg.), Land Use and Land Cover Mapping in Europe (Bd. 18, S. 55–74). Springer Netherlands.

Hu, C., Wu, Q., Li, H., Jian, S., Li, N., & Lou, Z. (2018). Deep Learning with a Long Short-Term Memory Networks Approach for Rainfall-Runoff Simulation. Water, 10(11), 1543.

Kratzert, F., Klotz, D., Shalev, G., Klambauer, G., Hochreiter, S., & Nearing, G. (2019). Towards learning universal, regional, and local hydrological behaviors via machine learning applied to large-sample datasets. Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, 23(12), 5089–5110.

Rauthe, M, Steiner, H, Riediger, U, Mazurkiewicz, A &Gratzki, A (2013): A Central European precipitation climatology – Part I: Generation and validation of a high-resolution gridded daily data set (HYRAS), Meteorologische Zeitschrift, Vol 22, No 3, 235–256.

How to cite: Drost, S., Netzel, F., Wytzisk-Ahrens, A., and Mudersbach, C.: The Impact of Land Cover Data on Rainfall-Runoff Prediction Using an Entity-Aware-LSTM, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-1136,, 2021.


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