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Groundwater is a vital source of freshwater, supporting the livelihood of over two billion people worldwide. The quantitative assessment of groundwater resources is critical for sustainable management of this strained resource, particularly as climate warming, population growth, and socioeconomic development further press the water resources. Rapid growth in the availability of a plethora of in-situ and remotely sensed data alongside advancements in data-driven methods and machine learning offer immense opportunities for an improved assessment of groundwater resources at the local to global levels. This systematic review documents the advancements in this field and evaluates the accuracy of various models, following the protocol developed by the Center for Evidence-Based Conservation. A total of 197 original peer-reviewed articles from 2010–2020 and from 28 countries that employ regression machine learning algorithms for groundwater monitoring or prediction are analyzed and their results are aggregated through a meta-analysis. Our analysis points to the capability of machine learning models to monitor/predict different characteristics of groundwater resources effectively and efficiently. Modeling the groundwater level is the most popular application of machine learning models, and the groundwater level in previous time steps is the most employed input data. The feed-forward artificial neural network is the most employed and accurate model, although the model performance does not exhibit a striking dependence on the model choice, but rather the information content of the input variables. Around 10–12 years of data are required to develop an acceptable machine learning model with a monthly temporal resolution. Finally, advances in machine and deep learning algorithms and computational advancements to merge them with physics-based models offer unprecedented opportunities to employ new information, e.g., InSAR data, for increased spatiotemporal resolution and accuracy of groundwater monitoring and prediction.


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Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.