Deep learning versus hybrid regularized extreme learning machine for multi-month drought forecasting: A comparative study and trend analysis in tropical region

Mohammed Majeed Hameed, Siti Fatin Mohd Razali*, Wan Hanna Melini Wan Mohtar, Majed Omar Ahmad Alsaydalani, Zaher Mundher Yaseen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Drought is a hazardous natural disaster that can negatively affect the environment, water resources, agriculture, and the economy. Precise drought forecasting and trend assessment are essential for water management to reduce the detrimental effects of drought. However, some existing drought modeling techniques have limitations that hinder precise forecasting, necessitating the exploration of suitable approaches. This study examines two forecasting models, Long Short-Term Memory (LSTM) and a hybrid model integrating regularized extreme learning machine and Snake algorithm, to forecast hydrological droughts for one to six months in advance. Using the Multivariate Standardized Streamflow Index (MSSI) computed from 58 years of streamflow data for two drier Malaysian stations, the models forecast droughts and were compared to classical models such as gradient boosting regression and K-nearest model for validation purposes. The RELM-SO model outperformed other models for forecasting one month ahead at station S1, with lower root mean square error (RMSE = 0.1453), mean absolute error (MAE = 0.1164), and a higher Nash-Sutcliffe efficiency index (NSE = 0.9012) and Willmott index (WI = 0.9966). Similarly, at station S2, the hybrid model had lower (RMSE = 0.1211 and MAE = 0.0909), and higher (NSE = 0.8941 and WI = 0.9960), indicating improved accuracy compared to comparable models. Due to significant autocorrelation in the drought data, traditional statistical metrics may be inadequate for selecting the optimal model. Therefore, this study introduced a novel parameter to evaluate the model's effectiveness in accurately capturing the turning points in the data. Accordingly, the hybrid model significantly improved forecast accuracy from 19.32 % to 21.52 % when compared with LSTM. Besides, the reliability analysis showed that the hybrid model was the most accurate for providing long-term forecasts. Additionally, innovative trend analysis, an effective method, was used to analyze hydrological drought trends. The study revealed that October, November, and December experienced higher occurrences of drought than other months. This research advances accurate drought forecasting and trend assessment, providing valuable insights for water management and decision-making in drought-prone regions.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere22942
Issue number1
StatePublished - 15 Jan 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Authors


  • Climate smart agriculture
  • Deep learning
  • Drought forecasting
  • Drought turning points
  • Innovative trend analysis
  • Multivariate standardized streamflow index

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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