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  • Author or Editor: Lauren E. Hay x
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Martyn P. Clark
and
Lauren E. Hay

Abstract

This paper examines an archive containing over 40 years of 8-day atmospheric forecasts over the contiguous United States from the NCEP reanalysis project to assess the possibilities for using medium-range numerical weather prediction model output for predictions of streamflow. This analysis shows the biases in the NCEP forecasts to be quite extreme. In many regions, systematic precipitation biases exceed 100% of the mean, with temperature biases exceeding 3°C. In some locations, biases are even higher. The accuracy of NCEP precipitation and 2-m maximum temperature forecasts is computed by interpolating the NCEP model output for each forecast day to the location of each station in the NWS cooperative network and computing the correlation with station observations. Results show that the accuracy of the NCEP forecasts is rather low in many areas of the country. Most apparent is the generally low skill in precipitation forecasts (particularly in July) and low skill in temperature forecasts in the western United States, the eastern seaboard, and the southern tier of states. These results outline a clear need for additional processing of the NCEP Medium-Range Forecast Model (MRF) output before it is used for hydrologic predictions.

Techniques of model output statistics (MOS) are used in this paper to downscale the NCEP forecasts to station locations. Forecasted atmospheric variables (e.g., total column precipitable water, 2-m air temperature) are used as predictors in a forward screening multiple linear regression model to improve forecasts of precipitation and temperature for stations in the National Weather Service cooperative network. This procedure effectively removes all systematic biases in the raw NCEP precipitation and temperature forecasts. MOS guidance also results in substantial improvements in the accuracy of maximum and minimum temperature forecasts throughout the country. For precipitation, forecast improvements were less impressive. MOS guidance increases the accuracy of precipitation forecasts over the northeastern United States, but overall, the accuracy of MOS-based precipitation forecasts is slightly lower than the raw NCEP forecasts.

Four basins in the United States were chosen as case studies to evaluate the value of MRF output for predictions of streamflow. Streamflow forecasts using MRF output were generated for one rainfall-dominated basin (Alapaha River at Statenville, Georgia) and three snowmelt-dominated basins (Animas River at Durango, Colorado; East Fork of the Carson River near Gardnerville, Nevada; and Cle Elum River near Roslyn, Washington). Hydrologic model output forced with measured-station data were used as “truth” to focus attention on the hydrologic effects of errors in the MRF forecasts. Eight-day streamflow forecasts produced using the MOS-corrected MRF output as input (MOS) were compared with those produced using the climatic Ensemble Streamflow Prediction (ESP) technique. MOS-based streamflow forecasts showed increased skill in the snowmelt-dominated river basins, where daily variations in streamflow are strongly forced by temperature. In contrast, the skill of MOS forecasts in the rainfall-dominated basin (the Alapaha River) were equivalent to the skill of the ESP forecasts. Further improvements in streamflow forecasts require more accurate local-scale forecasts of precipitation and temperature, more accurate specification of basin initial conditions, and more accurate model simulations of streamflow.

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Ashley E. Van Beusekom
,
Lauren E. Hay
,
Andrew R. Bennett
,
Young-Don Choi
,
Martyn P. Clark
,
Jon L. Goodall
,
Zhiyu Li
,
Iman Maghami
,
Bart Nijssen
, and
Andrew W. Wood

Abstract

Surface meteorological analyses are an essential input (termed “forcing”) for hydrologic modeling. This study investigated the sensitivity of different hydrologic model configurations to temporal variations of seven forcing variables (precipitation rate, air temperature, longwave radiation, specific humidity, shortwave radiation, wind speed, and air pressure). Specifically, the effects of temporally aggregating hourly forcings to hourly daily average forcings were examined. The analysis was based on 14 hydrological outputs from the Structure for Unifying Multiple Modeling Alternatives (SUMMA) model for the 671 Catchment Attributes and Meteorology for Large-Sample Studies (CAMELS) basins across the contiguous United States (CONUS). Results demonstrated that the hydrologic model sensitivity to temporally aggregating the forcing inputs varies across model output variables and model locations. We used Latin hypercube sampling to sample model parameters from eight combinations of three influential model physics choices (three model decisions with two options for each decision, i.e., eight model configurations). Results showed that the choice of model physics can change the relative influence of forcing on model outputs and the forcing importance may not be dependent on the parameter space. This allows for model output sensitivity to forcing aggregation to be tested prior to parameter calibration. More generally, this work provides a comprehensive analysis of the dependence of modeled outcomes on input forcing behavior, providing insight into the regional variability of forcing variable dominance on modeled outputs across CONUS.

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Naoki Mizukami
,
Martyn P. Clark
,
Ethan D. Gutmann
,
Pablo A. Mendoza
,
Andrew J. Newman
,
Bart Nijssen
,
Ben Livneh
,
Lauren E. Hay
,
Jeffrey R. Arnold
, and
Levi D. Brekke

Abstract

Continental-domain assessments of climate change impacts on water resources typically rely on statistically downscaled climate model outputs to force hydrologic models at a finer spatial resolution. This study examines the effects of four statistical downscaling methods [bias-corrected constructed analog (BCCA), bias-corrected spatial disaggregation applied at daily (BCSDd) and monthly scales (BCSDm), and asynchronous regression (AR)] on retrospective hydrologic simulations using three hydrologic models with their default parameters (the Community Land Model, version 4.0; the Variable Infiltration Capacity model, version 4.1.2; and the Precipitation–Runoff Modeling System, version 3.0.4) over the contiguous United States (CONUS). Biases of hydrologic simulations forced by statistically downscaled climate data relative to the simulation with observation-based gridded data are presented. Each statistical downscaling method produces different meteorological portrayals including precipitation amount, wet-day frequency, and the energy input (i.e., shortwave radiation), and their interplay affects estimations of precipitation partitioning between evapotranspiration and runoff, extreme runoff, and hydrologic states (i.e., snow and soil moisture). The analyses show that BCCA underestimates annual precipitation by as much as −250 mm, leading to unreasonable hydrologic portrayals over the CONUS for all models. Although the other three statistical downscaling methods produce a comparable precipitation bias ranging from −10 to 8 mm across the CONUS, BCSDd severely overestimates the wet-day fraction by up to 0.25, leading to different precipitation partitioning compared to the simulations with other downscaled data. Overall, the choice of downscaling method contributes to less spread in runoff estimates (by a factor of 1.5–3) than the choice of hydrologic model with use of the default parameters if BCCA is excluded.

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