IWA Publishing

Modelling uncertainty of flood quantile estimations at ungauged sites by Bayesian networks

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Prediction at ungauged sites is essential for water resources planning and management. Ungauged sites have no observations about the magnitude of floods, but some site and basin characteristics are known. Regression models relate physiographic and climatic basin characteristics to flood quantiles, which can be estimated from observed data at gauged sites. However, some of these models assume linear relationships between variables and prediction intervals are estimated by the variance of the residuals in the estimated model. Furthermore, the effect of the uncertainties in the explanatory variables on the dependent variable cannot be assessed. This paper presents a methodology to propagate the uncertainties that arise in the process of predicting flood quantiles at ungauged basins by a regression model. In addition, Bayesian networks (BNs) were explored as a feasible tool for predicting flood quantiles at ungauged sites. Bayesian networks benefit from taking into account uncertainties thanks to their probabilistic nature. They are able to capture non-linear relationships between variables and they give a probability distribution of discharge as a result. The proposed BN model can be applied to supply the estimation uncertainty in national flood discharge mappings. The methodology was applied to a case study in the Tagus basin in Spain.

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