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Andrew W. Wood and John C. Schaake

Abstract

When hydrological models are used for probabilistic streamflow forecasting in the Ensemble Streamflow Prediction (ESP) framework, the deterministic components of the approach can lead to errors in the estimation of forecast uncertainty, as represented by the spread of the forecast ensemble. One avenue for correcting the resulting forecast reliability errors is to calibrate the streamflow forecast ensemble to match observed error characteristics. This paper outlines and evaluates a method for forecast calibration as applied to seasonal streamflow prediction. The approach uses the correlation of forecast ensemble means with observations to generate a conditional forecast mean and spread that lie between the climatological mean and spread (when the forecast has no skill) and the raw forecast mean with zero spread (when the forecast is perfect). Retrospective forecasts of summer period runoff in the Feather River basin, California, are used to demonstrate that the approach improves upon the performance of traditional ESP forecasts by reducing errors in forecast mean and improving spread estimates, thereby increasing forecast reliability and skill.

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Yu Zhang, Limin Wu, Michael Scheuerer, John Schaake, and Cezar Kongoli

Abstract

This article compares the skill of medium-range probabilistic quantitative precipitation forecasts (PQPFs) generated via two postprocessing mechanisms: 1) the mixed-type meta-Gaussian distribution (MMGD) model and 2) the censored shifted Gamma distribution (CSGD) model. MMGD derives the PQPF by conditioning on the mean of raw ensemble forecasts. CSGD, on the other hand, is a regression-based mechanism that estimates PQPF from a prescribed distribution by adjusting the climatological distribution according to the mean, spread, and probability of precipitation (POP) of raw ensemble forecasts. Each mechanism is applied to the reforecast of the Global Ensemble Forecast System (GEFS) to yield a postprocessed PQPF over lead times between 24 and 72 h. The outcome of an evaluation experiment over the mid-Atlantic region of the United States indicates that the CSGD approach broadly outperforms the MMGD in terms of both the ensemble mean and the reliability of distribution, although the performance gap tends to be narrow, and at times mixed, at higher precipitation thresholds (>5 mm). Analysis of a rare storm event demonstrates the superior reliability and sharpness of the CSGD PQPF and underscores the issue of overforecasting by the MMGD PQPF. This work suggests that the CSGD’s incorporation of ensemble spread and POP does help enhance its skill, particularly for light forecast amounts, but CSGD’s model structure and its use of optimization in parameter estimation likely play a more determining role in its outperformance.

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John C. Schaake, Thomas M. Hamill, Roberto Buizza, and Martyn Clark

The Hydrological Ensemble Prediction Experiment (HEPEX) is an international project to advance technologies for hydrological forecasting. Its goal is “to bring the international hydrological and meteorological communities together to demonstrate how to produce and utilize reliable hydrological ensemble forecasts to make decisions for the benefit of public health and safety, the economy, and the environment.” HEPEX is an open group composed primarily of researchers, forecasters, water managers, and users. HEPEX welcomes new members.

In the first workshop, held in the spring of2004, HEPEX participants formulated scientific questions that, once addressed, should help produce valuable hydrological ensemble prediction to serve users' needs. During the second HEPEX workshop, held in the summer of 2005, a series of coordinated test-bed demonstration projects was set up as a method for answering these questions. The test beds are collections of data and models for specific hydrological basins or subbasins, where relevant meteorological and hydrological data have been archived. The test beds will facilitate the intercomparison of various hydrological prediction methods and linkages to users. The next steps for HEPEX are to complete the work planned for each test bed and to use the results to engineer more valuable automated hydrological prediction systems.

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Nathalie Voisin, John C. Schaake, and Dennis P. Lettenmaier

Abstract

Two approaches for downscaling and calibrating error estimates from ensemble precipitation forecasts are evaluated; the two methods are intended to be used to produce flood forecasts based on global weather forecasts in ungauged river basins. The focus of this study is on the ability of the approaches to reproduce observed forecast errors when applied to daily precipitation forecasts from the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) Ensemble Prediction System (EPS) for a 10-day forecast period. The two approaches are bias correction with spatial disaggregation (BCSD) and an analog technique. Mean forecast errors and skills are evaluated with respect to Tropical Rainfall Monitoring Mission (TRMM) observations over the Ohio River basin for the period 2002–06 for daily and 5-day accumulations and for 0.25° and 1° spatial resolutions. The Ohio River basin was chosen so that a relatively dense gauge-based observed precipitation dataset could also be used in the evaluation of the two approaches. Neither the BCSD nor the analog approach is able to improve on the forecast prediction skill resulting from a simple spatial interpolation benchmark. However, both approaches improve the forecast reliability, although more so for the analog approach. The BCSD method improves the bias for all forecast amounts (but less so for large amounts), but the downscaled precipitation patterns are unrealistic. The analog approach reduces biases over a wider range of forecast amounts, and the precipitation patterns are more realistic.

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Joshua K. Roundy, Xing Yuan, John Schaake, and Eric F. Wood

Abstract

Hydrologic extremes in the form of flood and drought have large impacts on society that can be reduced through preparations made possible by seasonal prediction. However, the skill of seasonal predictions from global climate models is uncertain, which severely limits their practical use. In the past, the skill assessment has been limited to a single temporal or spatial resolution for a short hindcast period, which is prone to sampling errors, and noise that leads to uncertainty. In this work a framework that uses “canonical” forecast events, or averages in space–time, to provide a more certain assessment of when and where models are skillful is developed. This framework is demonstrated by using NCEP’s Climate Forecast System, version 2, hindcast dataset for precipitation and temperature over the contiguous United States (CONUS). As part of the canonical event analyses, the probabilistic predictability metric (PPM) is used to define spatial and seasonal variability of forecast skill and its attribution to El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) over the CONUS. The PPM indicates that there are clear seasonal and spatial patterns of model skill that provide a better understanding of when and where to have confidence in model predictions as compared to a skill metric based on a single temporal and spatial scale. Furthermore, the canonical event analysis also facilitates the attribution of spatiotemporal variations of precipitation predictive skill to the antecedent ENSO conditions. This work illustrates the importance of using canonical event analysis to diagnose seasonal predictions and discusses its extensions for model development.

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Limin Wu, Yu Zhang, Thomas Adams, Haksu Lee, Yuqiong Liu, and John Schaake

Abstract

Natural weather systems possess certain spatiotemporal variability and correlations. Preserving these spatiotemporal properties is a significant challenge in postprocessing ensemble weather forecasts. To address this challenge, several rank-based methods, the Schaake Shuffle and its variants, have been developed in recent years. This paper presents an extensive assessment of the Schaake Shuffle and its two variants. These schemes differ in how the reference multivariate rank structure is established. The first scheme (SS-CLM), an implementation of the original Schaake Shuffle method, relies on climatological observations to construct rank structures. The second scheme (SS-ANA) utilizes precipitation event analogs obtained from a historical archive of observations. The third scheme (SS-ENS) employs ensemble members from the Global Ensemble Forecast System (GEFS). Each of the three schemes is applied to postprocess precipitation ensemble forecasts from the GEFS for its first three forecast days over the mid-Atlantic region of the United States. In general, the effectiveness of these schemes depends on several factors, including the season (or precipitation pattern) and the level of gridcell aggregation. It is found that 1) the SS-CLM and SS-ANA behave similarly in spatial and temporal correlations; 2) by a measure for capturing spatial variability, the SS-ENS outperforms the SS-ANA, which in turn outperforms the SS-CLM; and 3), overall, the SS-ANA performs better than the SS-CLM. The study also reveals that it is important to choose a proper size for the postprocessed ensembles in order to capture extreme precipitation events.

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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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Yongkang Xue, Jinjun Ji, Shufen Sun, Guoxiong Wu, K-M. Lau, Isabelle Poccard, Hyun-Suk Kang, Renhe Zhang, John C. Schaake, Jian Yun Zhang, and Yanjun Jiao

Abstract

This is an exploratory study to investigate the spatial and temporal characteristics of east China’s (EC) river runoff and their relationship with precipitation and sea surface temperature (SST) at the continental scale. Monthly mean data from 72 runoff stations and 160 precipitation stations in EC, covering a period between 1951 and 1983, are used for this study. The station river runoff data have been spatially interpolated onto 1° grid boxes as runoff depth based on an extracted drainage network. Comparing runoff depth with precipitation shows that seasonal variation in runoff is consistent with the development of the summer monsoon, including the delayed response of runoff in several subregions. The dominant spatial scales and temporal patterns of summer runoff and precipitation are studied with empirical orthogonal function (EOF) analysis and wavelet analyses. The analyses show interannual, biennial, and longer-term variations in the EOF modes. South–north dipole anomaly patterns for the first two runoff EOF’s spatial distributions have been identified. The first/second runoff principal components (PCs) are highly correlated with the second/first precipitation PCs, respectively. The summer runoff’s EOF PCs also show significant correlations with the multivariate El Niño–Southern Oscillation index (MEI) of the summer and winter months, while the summer precipitation PCs do not. Statistic analysis shows that EOF1 of runoff and EOF2 of precipitation are related to El Niño, while EOF2 of runoff and EOF1 of precipitation are related to a dipole SST anomaly over the northwestern Pacific. The interdecadal relationship between summer runoff, precipitation, and SST variability is further studied by singular value decomposition (SVD) analysis. Pronounced warming (SST) and drying (runoff) trends in first SVD PCs have been identified. These SVDs are used to reconstruct a decadal anomaly pattern, which produces flooding in part of the Chang Jiang River basin and dryness in the northern EC, consistent with observations.

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Julie Demargne, Limin Wu, Satish K. Regonda, James D. Brown, Haksu Lee, Minxue He, Dong-Jun Seo, Robert Hartman, Henry D. Herr, Mark Fresch, John Schaake, and Yuejian Zhu

NOAA's National Weather Service (NWS) is implementing a short- to long-range Hydrologic Ensemble Forecast Service (HEFS). The HEFS addresses the need to quantify uncertainty in hydrologic forecasts for flood risk management, water supply management, streamflow regulation, recreation planning, and ecosystem management, among other applications. The HEFS extends the existing hydrologic ensemble services to include short-range forecasts, incorporate additional weather and climate information, and better quantify the major uncertainties in hydrologic forecasting. It provides, at forecast horizons ranging from 6 h to about a year, ensemble forecasts and verification products that can be tailored to users' needs.

Based on separate modeling of the input and hydrologic uncertainties, the HEFS includes 1) the Meteorological Ensemble Forecast Processor, which ingests weather and climate forecasts from multiple numerical weather prediction models to produce bias-corrected forcing ensembles at the hydrologic basin scales; 2) the Hydrologic Processor, which inputs the forcing ensembles into hydrologic, hydraulic, and reservoir models to generate streamflow ensembles; 3) the hydrologic Ensemble Postprocessor, which aims to account for the total hydrologic uncertainty and correct for systematic biases in streamflow; 4) the Ensemble Verification Service, which verifies the forcing and streamflow ensembles to help identify the main sources of skill and error in the forecasts; and 5) the Graphics Generator, which enables forecasters to create a large array of ensemble and related products. Examples of verification results from multiyear hind-casting illustrate the expected performance and limitations of HEFS. Finally, future scientific and operational challenges to fully embrace and practice the ensemble paradigm in hydrology and water resources services are discussed.

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Gilbert Brunet, Melvyn Shapiro, Brian Hoskins, Mitch Moncrieff, Randall Dole, George N. Kiladis, Ben Kirtman, Andrew Lorenc, Brian Mills, Rebecca Morss, Saroja Polavarapu, David Rogers, John Schaake, and Jagadish Shukla

The World Weather Research Programme (WWRP) and the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP) have identified collaborations and scientific priorities to accelerate advances in analysis and prediction at subseasonalto-seasonal time scales, which include i) advancing knowledge of mesoscale–planetary-scale interactions and their prediction; ii) developing high-resolution global–regional climate simulations, with advanced representation of physical processes, to improve the predictive skill of subseasonal and seasonal variability of high-impact events, such as seasonal droughts and floods, blocking, and tropical and extratropical cyclones; iii) contributing to the improvement of data assimilation methods for monitoring and predicting used in coupled ocean–atmosphere–land and Earth system models; and iv) developing and transferring diagnostic and prognostic information tailored to socioeconomic decision making. The document puts forward specific underpinning research, linkage, and requirements necessary to achieve the goals of the proposed collaboration.

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