Effects of Increasing Horizontal Resolution in a Convection-Permitting Model on Flood Forecasting: The 2011 Dramatic Events in Liguria, Italy

Silvio Davolio Institute of Atmospheric Sciences and Climate, National Research Council, Bologna, Italy

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Francesco Silvestro CIMA Research Foundation, Savona, Italy

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Piero Malguzzi Institute of Atmospheric Sciences and Climate, National Research Council, Bologna, Italy

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Abstract

Coupling meteorological and hydrological models is a common and standard practice in the field of flood forecasting. In this study, a numerical weather prediction (NWP) chain based on the BOLogna Limited Area Model (BOLAM) and the MOdello LOCale in Hybrid coordinates (MOLOCH) was coupled with the operational hydrological forecasting chain of the Ligurian Hydro-Meteorological Functional Centre to simulate two major floods that occurred during autumn 2011 in northern Italy. Different atmospheric simulations were performed by varying the grid spacing (between 1.0 and 3.0 km) of the high-resolution meteorological model and the set of initial/boundary conditions driving the NWP chain. The aim was to investigate the impact of these parameters not only from a meteorological perspective, but also in terms of discharge predictions for the two flood events. The operational flood forecasting system was thus used as a tool to validate in a more pragmatic sense the quantitative precipitation forecast obtained from different configurations of the NWP system. The results showed an improvement in flood prediction when a high-resolution grid was employed for atmospheric simulations. In turn, a better description of the evolution of the precipitating convective systems was beneficial for the hydrological prediction. Although the simulations underestimated the severity of both floods, the higher-resolution model chain would have provided useful information to the decision-makers in charge of protecting citizens.

Corresponding author address: Silvio Davolio, Institute of Atmospheric Sciences and Climate (ISAC), National Research Council (CNR), Via Gobetti 101, 40129 Bologna, Italy. E-mail: s.davolio@isac.cnr.it

Abstract

Coupling meteorological and hydrological models is a common and standard practice in the field of flood forecasting. In this study, a numerical weather prediction (NWP) chain based on the BOLogna Limited Area Model (BOLAM) and the MOdello LOCale in Hybrid coordinates (MOLOCH) was coupled with the operational hydrological forecasting chain of the Ligurian Hydro-Meteorological Functional Centre to simulate two major floods that occurred during autumn 2011 in northern Italy. Different atmospheric simulations were performed by varying the grid spacing (between 1.0 and 3.0 km) of the high-resolution meteorological model and the set of initial/boundary conditions driving the NWP chain. The aim was to investigate the impact of these parameters not only from a meteorological perspective, but also in terms of discharge predictions for the two flood events. The operational flood forecasting system was thus used as a tool to validate in a more pragmatic sense the quantitative precipitation forecast obtained from different configurations of the NWP system. The results showed an improvement in flood prediction when a high-resolution grid was employed for atmospheric simulations. In turn, a better description of the evolution of the precipitating convective systems was beneficial for the hydrological prediction. Although the simulations underestimated the severity of both floods, the higher-resolution model chain would have provided useful information to the decision-makers in charge of protecting citizens.

Corresponding author address: Silvio Davolio, Institute of Atmospheric Sciences and Climate (ISAC), National Research Council (CNR), Via Gobetti 101, 40129 Bologna, Italy. E-mail: s.davolio@isac.cnr.it
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