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Florian Pappenberger and Roberto Buizza

Abstract

In this paper the suitability of ECMWF forecasts for hydrological applications is evaluated. This study focuses on three spatial scales: the upper Danube (which is upstream of Bratislava, Slovakia), the entire Danube catchment, and the whole of Europe. Two variables, 2-m temperature and total precipitation, are analyzed. The analysis shows that precipitation forecasts follow largely in pattern the observations. The timing of the peaks between forecasted and observed precipitation and temperature is good although precipitation amounts are often underestimated. The catchment scale influences the skill scores significantly. Small catchments exhibit a larger variance as well as larger extremes. A water balance analysis suggest a 10% underestimation by the ensemble mean and an overestimation by the high-resolution forecast over the past few years. Precipitation and temperature predictions are skillful up to days 5–7. Forecasts accumulated over a longer time frame are largely more skillful than forecasts accumulated over short time periods.

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Steven L. Mullen and Roberto Buizza

Abstract

The effect of horizontal resolution and ensemble size on the ECMWF Ensemble Prediction System (EPS) is assessed for probabilistic forecasts of 24-h accumulated precipitation. Two sets of experiments are analyzed. The primary experiment compares two spectral truncations (total wavenumbers 159 and 255) for 30 summer and 57 winter dates. An auxiliary experiment compares three truncations (total wavenumbers 159, 255, and 319) for 16 initial dates (8 cool- and 8 warm-season events) during which heavy precipitation (>50 mm) occurred over the eastern United States at day 5 of the forecast. Rain gauge data from the River Forecast Centers of NOAA are used for verification. Skill is measured relative to long-term climatic frequencies, and the statistical significance of differences in the accuracy among the forecasts is estimated. Finer model resolution produces statistically significant improvements in EPS performance for ensemble configurations with the same number of members, especially for lighter thresholds (1 and 10 mm day−1). Performance changes somewhat when ensemble configurations with different resolutions and ensemble sizes, but equivalent computational costs, are compared for the heavier amounts (20 and 50 mm day−1). Coarser-resolution, larger-member ensembles can outperform higher-resolution, smaller-member ensembles in terms of ability to predict rare (in terms of climatic frequency of occurrence) precipitation events. The overall conclusion is that probabilistic forecasts of precipitation from large ensemble sizes at lower resolution can be more valuable to users and decision makers than probabilistic forecasts from smaller ensemble sizes at higher resolution, particularly when heavy precipitation occurs.

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Nathalie Voisin, Florian Pappenberger, Dennis P. Lettenmaier, Roberto Buizza, and John C. Schaake

Abstract

A 10-day globally applicable flood prediction scheme was evaluated using the Ohio River basin as a test site for the period 2003–07. The Variable Infiltration Capacity (VIC) hydrology model was initialized with the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) analysis temperatures and winds, and Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) Multisatellite Precipitation Analysis (TMPA) precipitation up to the day of forecast. In forecast mode, the VIC model was then forced with a calibrated and statistically downscaled ECMWF Ensemble Prediction System (EPS) 10-day ensemble forecast. A parallel setup was used where ECMWF EPS forecasts were interpolated to the spatial scale of the hydrology model. Each set of forecasts was extended by 5 days using monthly mean climatological variables and zero precipitation in order to account for the effects of the initial conditions. The 15-day spatially distributed ensemble runoff forecasts were then routed to four locations in the basin, each with different drainage areas. Surrogates for observed daily runoff and flow were provided by the reference run, specifically VIC simulation forced with ECMWF analysis fields and TMPA precipitation fields. The hydrologic prediction scheme using the calibrated and downscaled ECMWF EPS forecasts was shown to be more accurate and reliable than interpolated forecasts for both daily distributed runoff forecasts and daily flow forecasts. The initial and antecedent conditions dominated the flow forecasts for lead times shorter than the time of concentration depending on the flow forecast amounts and the drainage area sizes. The flood prediction scheme had useful skill for the 10 following days at all sites.

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