The Mar Menor is a hypersaline coastal lagoon with high environmental value and a characteristic example of a highly anthropized hydro-ecosystem located in the southeast of Spain. An unprecedented eutrophication crisis in 2016 and 2019 with abrupt changes in the quality of its waters caused a great social alarm. Understanding and modeling the level of a eutrophication indicator, such as chlorophyll-a (Chl-a), benefits the management of this complex system. In this study, we investigate the potential machine learning (ML) methods to predict the level of Chl-a. Particularly, Multilayer Neural Networks (MLNNs) and Support Vector Regressions (SVRs) are evaluated using as a target dataset information of up to nine different water quality parameters. The most relevant input combinations were extracted using wrapper feature selection methods which simplified the structure of the model, resulting in a more accurate and efficient procedure. Although the performance in the validation phase showed that SVR models obtained better results than MLNNs, experimental results indicated that both ML algorithms provide satisfactory results in the prediction of Chl-a concentration, reaching up to 0.7 R2CV (cross-validated coefficient of determination) for the best-fit models.
Keywords: Mar Menor coastal lagoon; chlorophyll-a; eutrophication; multilayer neural network (MLNN); support vector regression (SVR); water quality.