Convolutional neural network approach for spatial prediction of flood hazard at national scale of Iran

Khabat Khosravi, Mahdi Panahi, Ali Golkarian, Saskia D. Keesstra, Patricia M. Saco, Dieu Tien Bui*, Saro Lee*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

79 Citations (Scopus)


Iran experiences frequent destructive floods with significant socioeconomic consequences. Quantifying the accurate impacts of such natural hazards, however, is a complicated task. The present study uses a deep learning convolutional neural networks (CNN) algorithm, which is among the newer and most powerful algorithms in big data sets, to develop a flood susceptibility map for Iran. A total of 2769 records were collected from flood locations across the entire country; we divided this data set into two groups using a cross-validation technique. The first group, used as a training data set, was constructed from 70% of the data set and was used for model building. The second group, used as a testing data set, was constructed from the remaining 30% of the records and used for validation. Ten flood conditioning factors, slope, altitude, aspect, plan curvature, profile curvature, rainfall, geology, land use, distance from roads, and distance from rivers, were identified and used in the modeling process. The area under the prediction-rate curve was used for model evaluation, with results showing that the flood susceptibility map has an acceptable accuracy of 75%. The results also indicated that approximately 12% and 3% of the country are highly and very highly susceptible to future flooding events, respectively. Moreover, 29% and 49% of Iran's cities are located in areas with high and very high susceptibility to future flooding hazards. The most effective approaches to flood mitigation are preventing urban expansion and new construction in highly to very highly flood-prone areas as well as watershed management plans and constructing flood control structures according to the topographical characteristics of the catchment.

Original languageEnglish
Article number125552
JournalJournal of Hydrology
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020


  • Deep-learning
  • Flood control
  • Hazard
  • Iran


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