EGU21-3013, updated on 03 Mar 2021
EGU General Assembly 2021
© Author(s) 2021. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Prognosis of water levels in a moor groundwater system influenced by hydrology and water extraction using an artificial neural network 

Sascha Flaig1, Timothy Praditia1, Alexander Kissinger2, Ulrich Lang2, Sergey Oladyshkin1, and Wolfgang Nowak1
Sascha Flaig et al.
  • 1Modelling Hydraulic and Environmental Systems (IWS), University of Stuttgart, Stuttgart, Germany (
  • 2Engineering company Prof. Kobus und Partner, Leinfelden-Echterdingen, Germany (

In order to prevent possible negative impacts of water abstraction in an ecologically sensitive moor south of Munich (Germany), a “predictive control” scheme is in place. We design an artificial neural network (ANN) to provide predictions of moor water levels and to separate hydrological from anthropogenic effects. As the moor is a dynamic system, we adopt the „Long short-term memory“ architecture.

To find the best LSTM setup, we train, test and compare LSTMs with two different structures: (1) the non-recurrent one-to-one structure, where the series of inputs are accumulated and fed into the LSTM; and (2) the recurrent many-to-many structure, where inputs gradually enter the LSTM (including LSTM forecasts from previous forecast time steps). The outputs of our LSTMs then feed into a readout layer that converts the hidden states into water level predictions. We hypothesize that the recurrent structure is the better structure because it better resembles the typical structure of differential equations for dynamic systems, as they would usually be used for hydro(geo)logical systems. We evaluate the comparison with the mean squared error as test metric, and conclude that the recurrent many-to-many LSTM performs better for the analyzed complex situations. It also produces plausible predictions with reasonable accuracy for seven days prediction horizon.

Furthermore, we analyze the impact of preprocessing meteorological data to evapotranspiration data using typical ETA models. Inserting knowledge into the LSTM in the form of ETA models (rather than implicitly having the LSTM learn the ETA relations) leads to superior prediction results. This finding aligns well with current ideas on physically-inspired machine learning.

As an additional validation step, we investigate whether our ANN is able to correctly identify both anthropogenic and natural influences and their interaction. To this end, we investigate two comparable pumping events under different meteorological conditions. Results indicate that all individual and combined influences of input parameters on water levels can be represented well. The neural networks recognize correctly that the predominant precipitation and lower evapotranspiration during one pumping event leads to a lower decrease of the hydrograph.

To further demonstrate the capability of the trained neural network, scenarios of pumping events are created and simulated.

In conclusion, we show that more robust and accurate predictions of moor water levels can be obtained if available physical knowledge of the modeled system is used to design and train the neural network. The artificial neural network can be a useful instrument to assess the impact of water abstraction by quantifying the anthropogenic influence.

How to cite: Flaig, S., Praditia, T., Kissinger, A., Lang, U., Oladyshkin, S., and Nowak, W.: Prognosis of water levels in a moor groundwater system influenced by hydrology and water extraction using an artificial neural network , EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-3013,, 2021.


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