Nonparametric methods for drought severity estimation at ungauged sites


Corresponding author: S. Sadri, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Princeton University, Engineering Quad, Princeton, NJ 08540, USA. (


[1] The objective in frequency analysis is, given extreme events such as drought severity or duration, to estimate the relationship between that event and the associated return periods at a catchment. Neural networks and other artificial intelligence approaches in function estimation and regression analysis are relatively new techniques in engineering, providing an attractive alternative to traditional statistical models. There are, however, few applications of neural networks and support vector machines in the area of severity quantile estimation for drought frequency analysis. In this paper, we compare three methods for this task: multiple linear regression, radial basis function neural networks, and least squares support vector regression (LS-SVR). The area selected for this study includes 32 catchments in the Canadian Prairies. From each catchment drought severities are extracted and fitted to a Pearson type III distribution, which act as observed values. For each method-duration pair, we use a jackknife algorithm to produce estimated values at each site. The results from these three approaches are compared and analyzed, and it is found that LS-SVR provides the best quantile estimates and extrapolating capacity.