Fluctuation of groundwater levels around the world is an important theme in hydrological research. Rising water demand, faulty irrigation practices, mismanagement of soil and uncontrolled exploitation of aquifers are some of the reasons why groundwater levels are fluctuating. In order to effectively manage groundwater resources, it is important to have accurate readings and forecasts of groundwater levels. Due to the uncertain and complex nature of groundwater systems, the development of soft computing techniques (data-driven models) in the field of hydrology has significant potential. This study employs two soft computing techniques, namely, extreme learning machine (ELM) and support vector machine (SVM) to forecast groundwater levels at two observation wells located in Canada. A monthly data set of eight years from 2006 to 2014 consisting of both hydrological and meteorological parameters (rainfall, temperature, evapotranspiration and groundwater level) was used for the comparative study of the models. These variables were used in various combinations for univariate and multivariate analysis of the models. The study demonstrates that the proposed ELM model has better forecasting ability compared to the SVM model for monthly groundwater level forecasting.
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