Journal cover Journal topic
Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Research article
05 Oct 2017
Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (HESS).
Automatic design of basin-specific drought indexes for highly regulated water systems
Marta Zaniolo1, Matteo Giuliani2, Andrea Castelletti1,2, and Manuel Pulido-Velázquez3 1Department of Electronics, Information and Bioengineering, Politecnico di Milano, Piazza L. da Vinci, 32, I-20133 Milano, Italy
2Institute of Environmental Engineering, ETH, Wolfgang-Pauli-Str. 15, CH-8093 Zurich, Switzerland
3Dept. Ingeniería Hidráulica y Medio Ambiente, IIAMA (Institute of Water and Environmental Engineering), Technical Univ. of Valencia, Camino 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 in detecting critical events in highly regulated systems, where natural water availability is conditioned by the operations 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_GEISS 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, highly regulated Mediterranean water system, where an advanced drought management plan relying on the formulation of an ad-hoc State Index is used for triggering drought restraining measures. The State Index was constructed empirically with a trial-and-error process begun in the '80s and finalized in 2007, guided by the experts from Confederaciòn Hidrogràfica del Jùcar. Our results show that the automated variable selection outcomes align with CHJ's 25 years-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.

Citation: Zaniolo, M., Giuliani, M., Castelletti, A., and Pulido-Velázquez, M.: Automatic design of basin-specific drought indexes for highly regulated water systems, Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci. Discuss.,, in review, 2017.
Marta Zaniolo et al.
Marta Zaniolo et al.
Marta Zaniolo et al.


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Short summary
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. The 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...