Forecasting environmental water availability of lakes using temporal fusion transformer: case studies of China's two largest freshwater lakes

Environ Monit Assess. 2024 Jan 16;196(2):152. doi: 10.1007/s10661-024-12331-9.


Preserving lacustrine ecosystems is vital for sustainable watershed development, and forecasting the environmental water availability of lakes would support policymakers in developing sound management strategies. This study proposed a methodology that merges the lake water level prediction and environmental water availability evaluation. The temporal fusion transformer (TFT) model forecasted the lake water levels for the next 7 days by inputting the streamflow and lake water level data for the past 30 days. The environmental water availability was assessed by comparing the forecasted lake water levels with the environmental water requirements, resulting in adequate, regular, scarce, and severely scarce environmental water availability. The methodology was tested in two case studies: Poyang Lake and Dongting Lake, the two largest freshwater lakes in the Yangtze River Basin, China. The TFT model performed well in forecasting the lake water levels, as shown by the high coefficient of determination and finite root mean square error. The coefficients of determination exceeded 0.98 during the model training, validation, and test for both Poyang Lake and Dongting Lake, and the root mean square errors ranged from 0.06 to 0.46 m. The accurate prediction of lake water level promoted the precise forecasting of the environmental water availability with the high Kappa coefficient exceeding 0.90. Results indicated the rationality and effectiveness of integrating the lake water level prediction and environmental water availability evaluation. Future research includes the applicability of the TFT model to other lakes worldwide to test the proposed approach and investigate strategies to cope with environmental water scarcity.

Keywords: Environmental water availability; Environmental water level; Lake management; Temporal fusion transformer; Water level prediction.

MeSH terms

  • China
  • Ecosystem*
  • Environmental Monitoring / methods
  • Lakes*
  • Water


  • Water