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Kalman filter and its application to flow forecasting

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Title: Kalman filter and its application to flow forecasting
Author: Ngan, Patricia
Degree Doctor of Philosophy - PhD
Program Civil Engineering
Copyright Date: 1985
Subject Keywords Kalman filtering; Stream measurements; Flow meters
Abstract: The Kalman Filter has been applied to many fields of hydrology, particularly in the area of flood forecasting. This recursive estimation technique is based on a state-space approach which combines model description of a process with data information, and accounts for uncertainties in a hydrologic system. This thesis deals with applications of the Kalman Filter to ARMAX models in the context of streamflow prediction. Implementation of the Kalman Filter requires specification of the noise covariances (Q, R) and initial conditions of the state vector (x₀, P₀). Difficulties arise in streamflow applications because these quantities are often not known. Forecasting performance of the Kalman Filter is examined using synthetic flow data, generated with chosen values for the initial state vector and the noise covariances. An ARMAX model is cast into state-space form with the coefficients as the state vector. Sensitivity of the flow forecasts to specification of x₀, P₀, Q, R, (which may be different from the generation values) is examined. The filter's forecasting performance is mainly affected by the combined specification of Q and R. When both noise covariances are unknown, they should be specified relatively large in order to achieve a reasonable forecasting performance. Specififying Q too small and R too large should be avoided as it results in poor flow forecasts. The filter's performance is also examined using actual flow data from a large river, whose behavior changes slowly with time. Three simple ARMAX models are used for this investigation. Although there are different ways of writing the ARMAX model in state-space form, it is found that the best forecasting scheme is to model the ARMAX coefficients as the state vector. Under this formulation, the Kalman Filter is used to give recursive estimates of the coefficients. Hence flow predictions can be revised at each time step with the latest state estimate. This formulation also has the feature that initial values of the ARMAX coefficients need not be known accurately. The noise variances of each of the three models are estimated by the method of maximum likelihood, whereby the likelihood function is evaluated in terms of the innovations. Analyses of flow data for the stations considered in this thesis, indicate that the variance of the measurement error is proportional to the square of the flow. In practice, flow predictions several time steps in advance are often required. For autoregressive processes, this involves unknown elements in the system matrix H of the Kalman model. The Kalman algorithm underestimates the variance of the forecast error if H and x are both unknown. For the AR(1) model, a general expression for the mean square error of the forecast is developed. It is shown that the formula reduces to the Kalman equation for the case where the system matrix is known. The importance of this formula is realized in forecasting situations where management decisions depend on the reliability of flow predictions, reflected by their mean square errors.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2429/25948
Series/Report no. UBC Retrospective Theses Digitization Project [http://www.library.ubc.ca/archives/retro_theses/]
Scholarly Level: Graduate

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