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Seven years of activity in the field of mesoscale ensemble forecasting by the COSMO-LEPS system: main achievements and open challenges


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In this work, the main characteristics of COSMO-LEPS, the Limited-area Ensemble Prediction System developed in the framework of the COnsortium for Small-scale MOdelling, are presented. The present status of the system is shown with the description of the methodology and of the main upgrades which took place during its years of activity. The performance of COSMO-LEPS for the probabilistic prediction of precipitation is assessed in terms of both time-series and seasonal scores over a 7-yr period. A fixed number of stations are selected and observations are compared to short and early medium-range forecasts. Different verification indices are used to assess the skill of COSMO-LEPS and to identify the impact of system modifications on forecast skill. The different system upgrades are found to impact positively on COSMO-LEPS performance, with a gain of 2 d of predictability in the last 4 yr of operational forecasts. This holds when the skill of the system is assessed both for single events (e.g. precipitation surpassing a fixed threshold) and for multi-event situations. Scores for fixed forecast ranges but varying thresholds confirm increasingly better performance of the system. For a few seasons, the performance of COSMO-LEPS is also assessed in terms of probabilistic prediction of some upper-air variables. Then, the skill of COSMO-LEPS is compared to that of the global-ensemble system providing the boundaries, to identify the extent to which skill improvements may relate to those of the driving ensemble. Finally, the main streams of development for COSMO-LEPS system are discussed with future possible upgrades and methodology modifications.