Machine learning based marine water quality prediction for coastal hydro-environment management

Tianan Deng, Kwok Wing Chau, Huan Feng Duan

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

112 Citations (Scopus)


During the past three decades, harmful algal blooms (HAB) events have been frequently observed in marine waters around many coastal cities in the world including Hong Kong. The increasing occurrence of HAB has caused acute influences and damages on water environment and marine aquaculture with millions of monetary losses. For example, the Tolo Harbour is one of the most affected areas in Hong Kong, where more than 30% HAB occurred. In order to forewarn the potential HAB incidents, the machine learning (ML) methods have been increasingly resorted in modelling and forecasting water quality issues. In this study, two different ML methods – artificial neural networks (ANN) and support vector machine (SVM) – are implemented and improved by introducing different hybrid learning algorithms for the simulations and comparative analysis of more than 30-year measured data, so as to accurately forecast algal growth and eutrophication in Tolo Harbour in Hong Kong. The application results show the good applicability and accuracy of these two ML methods for the predictions of both trend and magnitude of the algal growth. Specifically, the results reveal that ANN is preferable to achieve satisfactory results with quick response, while the SVM is suitable to accurately identify the optimal model but taking longer training time. Moreover, it is demonstrated that the used ML methods could ensure robustness to learn complicated relationship between algal dynamics and different coastal environmental variables and thereby to identify significant variables accurately. The results analysis and discussion of this study also indicate the potentials and advantages of the applied ML models to provide useful information and implications for understanding the mechanism and process of HAB outbreak and evolution that is helpful to improving the water quality prediction for coastal hydro-environment management.

Original languageEnglish
Article number112051
JournalJournal of Environmental Management
Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2021


  • Coastal hydro-environment
  • Harmful algal blooms (HAB)
  • Machine learning (ML)
  • Marine environment
  • Water quality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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