Water temperature forecasting for Spanish rivers by means of nonlinear mixed models

Yiannis Kamarianakis, Sergio Velasco Ayuso, Elena Cristóbal Rodríguez, Manuel Toro Velasco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Study region: 43 rivers in Spain with measurement stations for air and water temperatures. Study focus: River water temperatures influence aquatic ecosystem dynamics. This work aims to develop transferable river temperature forecasting models, which are not confined to sites with historical measurements of air and water temperatures. For that purpose, we estimate nonlinear mixed models (NLMM), which are based on site-specific time-series models and account for seasonality and S-shaped air-to-water temperature associations. A detailed evaluation of the short-term forecasting performance of both NLMM and site-specific models is undertaken. Measurements from 31 measurement sites were used to estimate model parameters whereas data from 12 additional sites were used solely for the evaluation of NLMM. New hydrological insights for the region: Mixed models achieve levels of accuracy analogous to linear site-specific time-series regressions. Nonlinear site-specific models attain 1-day ahead forecasting accuracy close to 1 °C in terms of mean absolute error (MAE) and root mean square error (RMSE). Our results may facilitate adaptive management of freshwater resources in Spain in accordance with European water policy directives.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)226-243
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Hydrology: Regional Studies
StatePublished - Mar 1 2016


  • Predictive modeling
  • River temperatures
  • Spanish rivers
  • Streams
  • Thermal regimes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)


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