Predicting the Effects of Climate Change on Water Temperatures of Roode Elsberg Dam Using Nonparametric Machine Learning Models

A nonparametric machine learning model was used to study the behaviour of the variables of a concrete arch dam: Roode Elsberg dam. The variables used were ambient temperature, water temperatures, and water level. Water temperature was measured using twelve thermometers; six thermometers were on each flank of the dam. The thermometers were placed in pairs on different levels: avg6 (avg6-R and avg6-L) and avg5 (avg5-R and avg5-L) were on level 47.43 m, avg4 (avg4-R and avg4-L) and avg3 (avg3-R and avg3-L) were on level 43.62 m, and avg2 (avg2-R and avg2-L) and avg1 (avg1-R and avg1-L) were on level 26.23 m. Four neural networks and four random forests were cross-validated to determine their best-performing hyperparameters with the water temperature data. Quantile random forest was the best performer at mtry 7 (Number of variables randomly sampled as candidates at each split) and RMSE (Root mean square error) of 0.0015, therefore it was used for making predictions. The predictions were made using two cases of water level: recorded water level and full dam steady-state at Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP) 4.5 (hot and cold model) and RCP 8.5 (hot and cold model). Ambient temperature increased on average by 1.6 °C for the period 2012–2053 when using recorded water level; this led to increases in water temperature of 0.9 °C, 0.8 °C, and 0.4 °C for avg6-R, avg3-R, and avg1-R, respectively, for the period 2012–2053. The same average temperature increase led to average increases of 0.7 °C for avg6-R, 0.6 °C for avg3-R, and 0.3 °C for avg1-R for a full dam steady-state for the period 2012–2053.