Physics-Guided Long Short-Term Memory Network for Streamflow and Flood Simulations in the Lancang–Mekong River Basin

Binxiao Liu, Qiuhong Tang, Gang Zhao, Liang Gao, Chaopeng Shen, Baoxiang Pan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


A warming climate will intensify the water cycle, resulting in an exacerbation of water resources crises and flooding risks in the Lancang–Mekong River Basin (LMRB). The mitigation of these risks requires accurate streamflow and flood simulations. Process-based and data-driven hydrological models are the two major approaches for streamflow simulations, while a hybrid of these two methods promises advantageous prediction accuracy. In this study, we developed a hybrid physics-data (HPD) methodology for streamflow and flood prediction under the physics-guided neural network modeling framework. The HPD methodology leveraged simulation information from a process-based model (i.e., VIC-CaMa-Flood) along with the meteorological forcing information (precipitation, maximum temperature, minimum temperature, and wind speed) to simulate the daily streamflow series and flood events, using a long short-term memory (LSTM) neural network. This HPD methodology outperformed the pure process-based VIC-CaMa-Flood model or the pure observational data driven LSTM model by a large margin, suggesting the usefulness of introducing physical regularization in data-driven modeling, and the necessity of observation-informed bias cor-rection for process-based models. We further developed a gradient boosting tree method to measure the information contribution from the process-based model simulation and the meteorological forcing data in our HPD methodology. The results show that the process-based model simulation contributes about 30% to the HPD outcome, outweighing the information contribution from each of the meteorological forcing variables (<20%). Our HPD methodology inherited the physical mechanisms of the process-based model, and the high predictability capability of the LSTM model, offering a novel way for making use of incomplete physical understanding, and insufficient data, to enhance streamflow and flood predictions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1429
JournalWater (Switzerland)
Issue number9
StatePublished - May 1 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Aquatic Science
  • Biochemistry


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