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Water Resources Research

Simultaneous calibration of ensemble river flow predictions over an entire range of lead times

Authors

  • S. Hemri,

    Corresponding author
    1. Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research WSL, Birmensdorf, Switzerland
    2. Now at Institute for Applied Mathematics, Heidelberg University, Heidelberg, Germany
    • Corresponding author: S. Hemri, Institute for Applied Mathematics, Heidelberg University, Im Neuenheimer Feld 294, DE-69120 Heidelberg, Germany. (stephanhemri@gmx.ch)

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  • F. Fundel,

    1. Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research WSL, Birmensdorf, Switzerland
    2. Deutscher Wetterdienst, Offenbach, Germany
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  • M. Zappa

    1. Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research WSL, Birmensdorf, Switzerland
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Abstract

[1] Probabilistic estimates of future water levels and river discharge are usually simulated with hydrologic models using ensemble weather forecasts as main inputs. As hydrologic models are imperfect and the meteorological ensembles tend to be biased and underdispersed, the ensemble forecasts for river runoff typically are biased and underdispersed, too. Thus, in order to achieve both reliable and sharp predictions statistical postprocessing is required. In this work Bayesian model averaging (BMA) is applied to statistically postprocess ensemble runoff raw forecasts for a catchment in Switzerland, at lead times ranging from 1 to 240 h. The raw forecasts have been obtained using deterministic and ensemble forcing meteorological models with different forecast lead time ranges. First, BMA is applied based on mixtures of univariate normal distributions, subject to the assumption of independence between distinct lead times. Then, the independence assumption is relaxed in order to estimate multivariate runoff forecasts over the entire range of lead times simultaneously, based on a BMA version that uses multivariate normal distributions. Since river runoff is a highly skewed variable, Box-Cox transformations are applied in order to achieve approximate normality. Both univariate and multivariate BMA approaches are able to generate well calibrated probabilistic forecasts that are considerably sharper than climatological forecasts. Additionally, multivariate BMA provides a promising approach for incorporating temporal dependencies into the postprocessed forecasts. Its major advantage against univariate BMA is an increase in reliability when the forecast system is changing due to model availability.

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