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J. Bliefernicht, M. Waongo, S. Salack, J. Seidel, P. Laux, and H. Kunstmann

Abstract

Seasonal climate forecasts for an early warning of climate anomalies are produced by regional climate outlook forums (RCOF) worldwide. This study presents a verification of one of the earliest RCOF products, the precipitation outlook for the West African monsoon peak period (July–September). The basis of this outlook is countrywide precipitation forecasts from various statistical (downscaling) models, which are subjectively reinterpreted by experts on the basis of information from observed SST pattern analysis and global forecasts. The forecast quality was analyzed from 1998 to 2013 using a novel database of rain gauge measurements established for several West African countries, among other references. The analysis indicated skill for above normal and below normal on different spatial scales but also showed typical limitations of seasonal forecasting such as lack of sharpness and poor skill for near normal. A specific feature of the RCOF product is a strong overforecasting of near normal, very likely a result of the risk aversion of experts. To better illustrate the usefulness of the outlooks, they were evaluated with respect to a binary warning system by determining the maximum economic value V max. This verification indicated moderate valuable precipitation warnings for dry (V max = 0.39) and wet (V max = 0.34) years for four climatological zones (Sahel, Sudan–Sahel, Sudan, and Guinean) and five river basins (Volta, Senegal, and three Niger subbasins) but with strong regional differences (0.14 < V max < 0.54). The bootstrap analysis illustrated large uncertainties, indicating the relevance of uncertainty margins when seasonal forecast products with small sample sizes like RCOF outlooks are evaluated.

Open access
B. Wolf, C. Chwala, B. Fersch, J. Garvelmann, W. Junkermann, M. J. Zeeman, A. Angerer, B. Adler, C. Beck, C. Brosy, P. Brugger, S. Emeis, M. Dannenmann, F. De Roo, E. Diaz-Pines, E. Haas, M. Hagen, I. Hajnsek, J. Jacobeit, T. Jagdhuber, N. Kalthoff, R. Kiese, H. Kunstmann, O. Kosak, R. Krieg, C. Malchow, M. Mauder, R. Merz, C. Notarnicola, A. Philipp, W. Reif, S. Reineke, T. Rödiger, N. Ruehr, K. Schäfer, M. Schrön, A. Senatore, H. Shupe, I. Völksch, C. Wanninger, S. Zacharias, and H. P. Schmid

Abstract

ScaleX is a collaborative measurement campaign, collocated with a long-term environmental observatory of the German Terrestrial Environmental Observatories (TERENO) network in the mountainous terrain of the Bavarian Prealps, Germany. The aims of both TERENO and ScaleX include the measurement and modeling of land surface–atmosphere interactions of energy, water, and greenhouse gases. ScaleX is motivated by the recognition that long-term intensive observational research over years or decades must be based on well-proven, mostly automated measurement systems, concentrated in a small number of locations. In contrast, short-term intensive campaigns offer the opportunity to assess spatial distributions and gradients by concentrated instrument deployments, and by mobile sensors (ground and/or airborne) to obtain transects and three-dimensional patterns of atmospheric, surface, or soil variables and processes. Moreover, intensive campaigns are ideal proving grounds for innovative instruments, methods, and techniques to measure quantities that cannot (yet) be automated or deployed over long time periods. ScaleX is distinctive in its design, which combines the benefits of a long-term environmental-monitoring approach (TERENO) with the versatility and innovative power of a series of intensive campaigns, to bridge across a wide span of spatial and temporal scales. This contribution presents the concept and first data products of ScaleX-2015, which occurred in June–July 2015. The second installment of ScaleX took place in summer 2016 and periodic further ScaleX campaigns are planned throughout the lifetime of TERENO. This paper calls for collaboration in future ScaleX campaigns or to use our data in modelling studies. It is also an invitation to emulate the ScaleX concept at other long-term observatories.

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