Artificial neural networks for sheet sediment transport
Sheet sediment transport was modelled by artificial neural networks (ANNs). A three-layer feed-forward artificial neural network structure was constructed and a back-propagation algorithm was used for the training of ANNs. Event-based, runoff-driven experimental sediment data were used for the training and testing of the ANNs. In training, data on slope and rainfall intensity were fed into the network as inputs and data on sediment discharge were used as target outputs. The performance of the ANNs was tested against that of the most commonly used physically-based models, whose transport capacity was based on one of the dominant variables-flow velocity (V), shear stress (SS), stream power (SP), and unit stream power (USP). The comparison results revealed that the ANNs performed as well as the physically-based models for simulating nonsteady-state sediment loads from different slopes. The performances of the ANNs and the physically-based models were also quantitatively investigated to estimate mean sediment discharges from experimental runs. The investigation results indicated that better estimations were obtained for V over mild and steep slopes, under low rainfall intensity; for USP over mild and steep slopes, under high rainfall intensity; for SP and SS over very steep slopes, under high rainfall intensity; and for ANNs over steep and very steep slopes, under very high rainfall intensities.