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Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 22, issue 4
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 22, 2409-2424, 2018
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-22-2409-2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 22, 2409-2424, 2018
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-22-2409-2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 20 Apr 2018

Research article | 20 Apr 2018

Automatic design of basin-specific drought indexes for highly regulated water systems

Marta Zaniolo1, Matteo Giuliani1, Andrea Francesco Castelletti1,2, and Manuel Pulido-Velazquez3 Marta Zaniolo et al.
  • 1Department of Electronics, Information and Bioengineering, Politecnico di Milano, Piazza L. da Vinci, 32, 20133 Milan, Italy
  • 2Institute of Environmental Engineering, ETH, Wolfgang-Pauli-Str. 15, 8093 Zurich, Switzerland
  • 3Research Institute of Water and Environmental Engineering (IIAMA), Universitat Politècnica de València, Camí de Vera s/n, 46022, Valencia, Spain

Abstract. Socio-economic costs of drought are progressively increasing worldwide due to undergoing alterations of hydro-meteorological regimes induced by climate change. Although drought management is largely studied in the literature, traditional drought indexes often fail at detecting critical events in highly regulated systems, where natural water availability is conditioned by the operation of water infrastructures such as dams, diversions, and pumping wells. Here, ad hoc index formulations are usually adopted based on empirical combinations of several, supposed-to-be significant, hydro-meteorological variables. These customized formulations, however, while effective in the design basin, can hardly be generalized and transferred to different contexts. In this study, we contribute FRIDA (FRamework for Index-based Drought Analysis), a novel framework for the automatic design of basin-customized drought indexes. In contrast to ad hoc empirical approaches, FRIDA is fully automated, generalizable, and portable across different basins. FRIDA builds an index representing a surrogate of the drought conditions of the basin, computed by combining all the relevant available information about the water circulating in the system identified by means of a feature extraction algorithm. We used the Wrapper for Quasi-Equally Informative Subset Selection (W-QEISS), which features a multi-objective evolutionary algorithm to find Pareto-efficient subsets of variables by maximizing the wrapper accuracy, minimizing the number of selected variables, and optimizing relevance and redundancy of the subset. The preferred variable subset is selected among the efficient solutions and used to formulate the final index according to alternative model structures. We apply FRIDA to the case study of the Jucar river basin (Spain), a drought-prone and highly regulated Mediterranean water resource system, where an advanced drought management plan relying on the formulation of an ad hoc state index is used for triggering drought management measures. The state index was constructed empirically with a trial-and-error process begun in the 1980s and finalized in 2007, guided by the experts from the Confederación Hidrográfica del Júcar (CHJ). Our results show that the automated variable selection outcomes align with CHJ's 25-year-long empirical refinement. In addition, the resultant FRIDA index outperforms the official State Index in terms of accuracy in reproducing the target variable and cardinality of the selected inputs set.

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Drought indexes are an effective tool to support drought management in water systems, but their definition must be tailored to the features of the considered basin. In highly regulated contexts, non-generalizable ad hoc methods are usually employed to design these indexes. This paper contributes the novel Framework for Index-based Drought Analysis (FRIDA) that supports the automatic construction of basin-customized drought indexes representing a surrogate of the basin drought conditions.
Drought indexes are an effective tool to support drought management in water systems, but their...
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