DOI: 10.2166/aqua.2023.048 ISSN:

A comparison of the performance of SWAT and artificial intelligence models for monthly rainfall–runoff analysis in the Peddavagu River Basin, India

Padala Raja Shekar, Aneesh Mathew, Arunabh Pandey, Avadhoot Bhosale
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Pollution
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Ecology
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Environmental Engineering


Rainfall–runoff (R–R) analysis is essential for sustainable water resource management. In the present study focusing on the Peddavagu River Basin, various modelling approaches were explored, including the widely used Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) model, as well as seven artificial intelligence (AI) models. The AI models consisted of seven data-driven models, namely support vector regression, artificial neural network, multiple linear regression, Extreme Gradient Boosting (XGBoost) regression, k-nearest neighbour regression, and random forest regression, along with one deep learning model called long short-term memory (LSTM). To evaluate the performance of these models, a calibration period from 1990 to 2005 and a validation period from 2006 to 2010 were considered. The evaluation metrics used were R2 (coefficient of determination) and NSE (Nash–Sutcliffe Efficiency). The study's findings revealed that all eight models yielded generally acceptable results for modelling the R–R process in the Peddavagu River Basin. Specifically, the LSTM demonstrated very good performance in simulating R–R during both the calibration period (R2 is 0.88 and NSE is 0.88) and the validation period (R2 is 0.88 and NSE is 0.85). In conclusion, the study highlighted the growing trend of adopting AI techniques, particularly the LSTM model, for R–R analysis.

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