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Climate Index Weighting Schemes for NWS ESP-Based Seasonal Volume Forecasts

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  • 1 Colorado Basin River Forecast Center, Salt Lake City, Utah
  • | 2 Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado
  • | 3 Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, and Department of Civil, Environmental, and Architectural Engineering, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado
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Abstract

This study compares methods to incorporate climate information into the National Weather Service River Forecast System (NWSRFS). Three small-to-medium river subbasins following roughly along a longitude in the Colorado River basin with different El Niño–Southern Oscillation signals were chosen as test basins. Historical ensemble forecasts of the spring runoff for each basin were generated using modeled hydrologic states and historical precipitation and temperature observations using the Ensemble Streamflow Prediction (ESP) component of the NWSRFS.

Two general methods for using a climate index (e.g., Niño-3.4) are presented. The first method, post-ESP, uses the climate index to weight ensemble members from ESP. Four different post-ESP weighting schemes are presented. The second method, preadjustment, uses the climate index to modify the temperature and precipitation ensembles used in ESP. Two preadjustment methods are presented. This study shows the distance-sensitive nearest-neighbor post-ESP to be superior to the other post-ESP weighting schemes. Further, for the basins studied, forecasts based on post-ESP techniques outperformed those based on preadjustment techniques.

Corresponding author address: Kevin Werner, NWS/CBRFC, 2242 W. North Temple, Salt Lake City, UT 84116. Email: Kevin.Werner@noaa.gov

Abstract

This study compares methods to incorporate climate information into the National Weather Service River Forecast System (NWSRFS). Three small-to-medium river subbasins following roughly along a longitude in the Colorado River basin with different El Niño–Southern Oscillation signals were chosen as test basins. Historical ensemble forecasts of the spring runoff for each basin were generated using modeled hydrologic states and historical precipitation and temperature observations using the Ensemble Streamflow Prediction (ESP) component of the NWSRFS.

Two general methods for using a climate index (e.g., Niño-3.4) are presented. The first method, post-ESP, uses the climate index to weight ensemble members from ESP. Four different post-ESP weighting schemes are presented. The second method, preadjustment, uses the climate index to modify the temperature and precipitation ensembles used in ESP. Two preadjustment methods are presented. This study shows the distance-sensitive nearest-neighbor post-ESP to be superior to the other post-ESP weighting schemes. Further, for the basins studied, forecasts based on post-ESP techniques outperformed those based on preadjustment techniques.

Corresponding author address: Kevin Werner, NWS/CBRFC, 2242 W. North Temple, Salt Lake City, UT 84116. Email: Kevin.Werner@noaa.gov

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