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Discussion papers | Copyright
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 21 Sep 2018

Research article | 21 Sep 2018

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (HESS).

Subseasonal hydrometeorological ensemble predictions in small-and medium-size mountainous catchments: Benefits of the NWP approach

Samuel Monhart1,2,3, Massimiliano Zappa1, Christoph Spirig2, Christoph Schär3, and Konrad Bogner1 Samuel Monhart et al.
  • 1Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research WSL, Mountain Hydrology and Mass Movements, Birmensdorf, Switzerland
  • 2Federal Office of Meteorology and Climatology MeteoSwiss, Climate Prediction, Zurich-Airport, Switzerland
  • 3ETH Zurich, Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science, Zurich, Switzerland

Abstract. Traditional Ensemble Streamflow Prediction systems (ESP) are known to provide a valuable baseline to predict streamflows at the subseasonal to seasonal timescale. They exploit a combination of initial conditions and past meteorological observations, and can often provide useful forecasts of the expected streamflow in the upcoming month. In recent years, numerical weather prediction (NWP) models for subseasonal to seasonal timescales have made large progress and can provide added value to such a traditional ESP approach. Prior of using such meteorological predictions two major problems need to be solved: the correction of biases, and downscaling to account to increase the spatial resolution. Various methods exist to overcome these problems, but the potential of using NWP information and the relative merit of the different statistical and modeling steps remains open. To address this question, we compare a traditional ESP system with a subseasonal hydrometeorological ensemble prediction system in three alpine catchments with varying hydroclimatic conditions with areas between 80 and 1700km2. Uncorrected and corrected (pre-processed) temperature and precipitation reforecasts from the ECMWF subseasonal NWP model are used to run the hydrological simulations and the performance of the resulting streamflow predictions is assessed with commonly used verification scores characterizing different aspects of the forecasts (ensemble mean and spread). Our results indicate that the NWP based approach can provide superior prediction than the ESP approach, especially at shorter lead times. In snow-dominated catchments the pre-processing of the meteorological input further improves the performance of the predictions. This is most pronounced in late winter and spring when snow melting occurs. Moreover, our results highlight the importance of snow related processes for subseasonal streamflow predictions in mountainous regions.

Samuel Monhart et al.
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Status: open (until 16 Nov 2018)
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Samuel Monhart et al.
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Latest update: 20 Oct 2018
Publications Copernicus
Short summary
Subseasonal streamflow forecasts have received increasing attention during the past decade but their performance in alpine catchments is still largely unknown. We analyze the effect of a statistical correction technique applied to the driving meteorological forecasts on the performance of the resulting streamflow forecasts. The study shows the benefits of such hydrometeorological ensemble prediction systems and highlights the importance of snow-related processes for subseasonal predictions.
Subseasonal streamflow forecasts have received increasing attention during the past decade but...