Application of machine learning to model wetland inundation patterns across a aarge semiarid floodplain

Sara Shaeri Karimi*, Neil Saintilan, Li Wen, Roozbeh Valavi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Inundation is a primary driver of floodplain ecology. Understanding temporal and spatial variability of inundation patterns is critical for optimum resource management, particularly in striking an appropriate balance between environmental water application and extractive use. Nevertheless, quantifying inundation at the fine resolution required of ecological modeling is an immense challenge in these environments. In this study, Random Forest, a machine learning technique, was implemented to predict the inundation pattern in a section of the Darling River Floodplain, Australia, at a spatial scale of 30 m and daily temporal resolution. The model achieved very good performance with an average accuracy of 0.915 based on the area under the receiver operating characteristic curve over 10 runs of the model in testing data sets. Six variables explained 70% of the total contribution to inundation occurrence, with the most influential being landscape shape (local deviation from global mean elevation), elevation-weighted distance to the river, the magnitude of river flow (10- and 30-day accumulated river discharge), local rainfall, and soil moisture. This approach is applicable to other floodplains across the world where understanding of fine-scale inundation pattern is for operational ecological management and scenario testing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8765-8778
Number of pages14
JournalWater Resources Research
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2019

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