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Elisa Brussolo, Jost von Hardenberg, and Nicola Rebora

Abstract

The assessment of hydrometeorological risk in small basins requires the availability of skillful, high-resolution quantitative precipitation forecasts to predict the probability of occurrence of severe, localized precipitation events. Large-scale ensemble prediction systems (EPS) currently provide forecast scenarios down to a resolution of about 50 km. High-resolution, nonhydrostatic, limited-area ensemble prediction systems provide dynamically based forecasts by extending these scenarios to smaller scales, typically on the order of 10 km. This work explores an alternative approach to the use of limited-area ensemble prediction systems, by directly applying a stochastic downscaling technique to large-scale ensemble forecasts. The performances of these two different approaches for three well-predicted precipitation events in northwestern Italy during 2006 are compared. Ensemble forecasts provided by the ECMWF EPS, downscaled using the Rainfall Filtered Autoregressive Model (RainFARM) stochastic technique, and ensemble forecasts obtained from the Consortium for Small-Scale Modeling Limited-Area Ensemble Prediction System (COSMO-LEPS) are considered. A dense network of rain gauges is used for verification. It is found that the probabilistic forecast skill of stochastically downscaled ensembles may be comparable with that of dynamically downscaled ensembles, using a range of standard forecast skill measures. Stochastic downscaling is suggested as a tool for benchmarking the performance of dynamical ensemble downscaling systems.

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Francesco Silvestro, Nicola Rebora, and Luca Ferraris

Abstract

Polarimetric radars provide measurements that describe the shape and dimensions of hydrometeors and are unaffected by calibration, attenuation, and the presence of ice. These measurements can potentially lead to a more detailed description of hydrometeors and to an improvement in quantitative rainfall rate estimation. The authors present an algorithm that exploits polarimetric measures for rain-rate estimation and investigate its application in a real-time framework by using measurements from the C-band polarimetric radar at Monte Settepani in Savona, Italy. It is based on a flowchart decision tree that allows the use of the best rain-rate retrieval algorithm, depending on the value of polarimetric variables. The methodology was applied to a real-time framework for more than a year, and the results were presented for all the significant events observed during the test period. To evaluate the performance of the algorithm, a comparison was made with rain gauge observation from a dense regional network. The performances of the algorithm were compared with those obtained by standard operational Z–R formulations to evaluate the benefit of this approach for operational applications.

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Francesco Silvestro, Nicola Rebora, and Luca Ferraris

Abstract

The forecast of rainfall-driven floods is one of the main themes of analysis in hydrometeorology and a critical issue for civil protection systems. This work describes a complete hydrometeorological forecast system for small- and medium-sized basins and has been designed for operational applications. In this case, because of the size of the target catchments and to properly account for uncertainty sources in the prediction chain, the authors apply a probabilistic framework. This approach allows for delivering a prediction of streamflow that is valuable for decision makers and that uses as input quantitative precipitation forecasts (QPF) issued by a regional center that is in charge of hydrometeorological predictions in the Liguria region of Italy. This kind of forecast is derived from different meteorological models and from the experience of meteorologists. Single-catchment and multicatchment approaches have been operationally implemented and studied. The hydrometeorological forecasting chain has been applied to a series of case studies with encouraging results. The implemented system makes effective use of the quantitative information content of rainfall forecasts issued by expert meteorologists for flood-alert purposes.

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Nicola Rebora, Luca Ferraris, Jost von Hardenberg, and Antonello Provenzale

Abstract

A method is introduced for stochastic rainfall downscaling that can be easily applied to the precipitation forecasts provided by meteorological models. Our approach, called the Rainfall Filtered Autoregressive Model (RainFARM), is based on the nonlinear transformation of a Gaussian random field, and it conserves the information present in the rainfall fields at larger scales. The procedure is tested on two radar-measured intense rainfall events, one at midlatitude and the other in the Tropics, and it is shown that the synthetic fields generated by RainFARM have small-scale statistical properties that are consistent with those of the measured precipitation fields. The application of the disaggregation procedure to an example meteorological forecast illustrates how the method can be implemented in operational practice.

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Elisa Brussolo, Jost von Hardenberg, Luca Ferraris, Nicola Rebora, and Antonello Provenzale

Abstract

The use of dense networks of rain gauges to verify the skill of quantitative numerical precipitation forecasts requires bridging the scale gap between the finite resolution of the forecast fields and the point measurements provided by each gauge. This is usually achieved either by interpolating the numerical forecasts to the rain gauge positions, or by upscaling the rain gauge measurements by averaging techniques. Both approaches are affected by uncertainties and sampling errors due to the limited density of most rain gauge networks and to the high spatiotemporal variability of precipitation. For this reason, an estimate of the sampling errors is crucial for obtaining a meaningful comparison. This work presents the application of a stochastic rainfall downscaling technique that allows a quantitative comparison between numerical forecasts and rain gauge measurements, in both downscaling and upscaling approaches, and allows a quantitative assessment of the significance of the results of the verification procedure.

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Sabino Metta, Jost von Hardenberg, Luca Ferraris, Nicola Rebora, and Antonello Provenzale

Abstract

A novel rainfall nowcasting method based on the combination of an empirical nonlinear transformation of measured precipitation fields and the stochastic evolution in spectral space of the transformed fields is introduced. The power spectrum and the amplitude distribution of precipitation are kept constant during the forecast, and a Langevin-type model is used to evolve the Fourier phases. The application of the method to a study case is illustrated, and it is shown that, with this procedure, a forecast skill can be obtained that is superior to those provided by Eulerian or Lagrangian persistence for a lead time of up to two hours.

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Antonio Parodi, Dieter Kranzlmüller, Andrea Clematis, Emanuele Danovaro, Antonella Galizia, Luis Garrote, Maria Carmen Llasat, Olivier Caumont, Evelyne Richard, Quillon Harpham, Franco Siccardi, Luca Ferraris, Nicola Rebora, Fabio Delogu, Elisabetta Fiori, Luca Molini, Efi Foufoula-Georgiou, and Daniele D’Agostino

Abstract

From 1970 to 2012, about 9,000 high-impact weather events were reported globally, causing the loss of 1.94 million lives and damage of $2.4 trillion (U.S. dollars). The scientific community is called to action to improve the predictive ability of such events and communicate forecasts and associated risks both to affected populations and to those making decisions. At the heart of this challenge lies the ability to have easy access to hydrometeorological data and models and to facilitate the necessary collaboration between meteorologists, hydrologists, and computer science experts to achieve accelerated scientific advances. Two European Union (EU)-funded projects, Distributed Research Infrastructure for Hydro-Meteorology (DRIHM) and DRIHM to United States of America (DRIHM2US), sought to help address this challenge by developing a prototype e-science environment providing advanced end-to-end services (models, datasets, and postprocessing tools), with the aim of paving the way to a step change in how scientists can approach studying these events, with a special focus on flood events in complex topographic areas. This paper describes the motivation and philosophy behind this prototype e-science environment together with certain key components, focusing on hydrometeorological aspects that are then illustrated through actionable research for a critical flash flood event that occurred in October 2014 in Liguria, Italy.

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