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Brett T. Hoover
,
Jason A. Otkin
,
Eugene M. Petrescu
, and
Emily Niebuhr

Abstract

A method is presented to generate quantitative precipitation estimates over Alaska using kriging to merge sparse, unevenly distributed rain gauge observations with quantitative precipitation forecasts from a three-member ensemble of high-resolution numerical weather prediction models. The estimated error variance of the analysis is computed by starting with the estimated error variance from kriging and then refining the variance in k-fold cross validation by an empirically derived inflation factor. The method combines dynamical model forecast information with observational data to deliver a best linear unbiased estimate of precipitation, along with an analysis uncertainty estimate, that provides a much-needed precipitation analysis in a region where sparse in situ observations, poor coverage by remote sensing platforms, and complex terrain introduce large uncertainties that need to be quantified. For 6-hourly accumulation estimates produced four times daily from 1 August 2019 to 31 July 2020, three analysis configurations are tested to measure the value added by including model forecast data and how those data are best utilized in the analysis. Several directions for further improvement and validation of the analysis product are provided.

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Akila Sampath
,
Uma S. Bhatt
,
Peter A. Bieniek
,
Robert Ziel
,
Alison York
,
Heidi Strader
,
Sharon Alden
,
Richard Thoman
,
Brian Brettschneider
,
Eugene Petrescu
,
Peitao Peng
, and
Sarah Mitchell

Abstract

In this study, seasonal forecasts from the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) Climate Forecast System, version 2 (CFSv2), are compared with station observations to assess their usefulness in producing accurate buildup index (BUI) forecasts for the fire season in Interior Alaska. These comparisons indicate that the CFSv2 June–July–August (JJA) climatology (1994–2017) produces negatively biased BUI forecasts because of negative temperature and positive precipitation biases. With quantile mapping (QM) correction, the temperature and precipitation forecasts better match the observations. The long-term JJA mean BUI improves from 12 to 42 when computed using the QM-corrected forecasts. Further postprocessing of the QM-corrected BUI forecasts using the quartile classification method shows anomalously high values for the 2004 fire season, which was the worst on record in terms of the area burned by wildfires. These results suggest that the QM-corrected CFSv2 forecasts can be used to predict extreme fire events. An assessment of the classified BUI ensemble members at the subseasonal scale shows that persistently occurring BUI forecasts exceeding 150 in the cumulative drought season can be used as an indicator that extreme fire events will occur during the upcoming season. This study demonstrates the ability of QM-corrected CFSv2 forecasts to predict the potential fire season in advance. This information could, therefore, assist fire managers in resource allocation and disaster response preparedness.

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