Rainfall–runoff is a complicated nonlinear process and many data mining tools have demonstrated their powerful potential in its modelling but still there are many unsolved problems. This paper addresses a mostly ignored area in hydrological modelling: data time interval for models. Modern data collection and telecommunication technologies can provide us with very high resolution data with extremely fine sampling intervals. We hypothesise that both too large and too small time intervals would be detrimental to a model's performance, which has been illustrated in the case study. It has been found that there is an optimal time interval which is different from the original data time interval (i.e. the measurement time interval). It has been found that the data time interval does have a major impact on the model's performance, which is more prominent for longer lead times than for shorter ones. This is highly relevant to flood forecasting since a flood modeller usually tries to stretch his/her model's lead time as far as possible. If the selection of data time interval is not considered, the model developed will not be performing at its full potential. The application of the Gamma Test and Information Entropy introduced in this paper may help the readers to speed up their data input selection process.
Keywords: artificial neural networks, data time interval, flood forecasting, gamma test, information entropy