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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2019-345
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2019-345
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 16 Jul 2019

Submitted as: research article | 16 Jul 2019

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

Impact of improved Sea Surface Temperature representation on the forecast of small Mediterranean catchments hydrological response to heavy precipitation

Alfonso Senatore, Luca Furnari, and Giuseppe Mendicino Alfonso Senatore et al.
  • Department of Environmental and Chemical Engineering, Università della Calabria, P.te P. Bucci 42b, 87036 Rende (CS), Italy

Abstract. Operational meteo-hydrological forecasting chains are affected by many sources of uncertainty. In coastal areas characterized by complex topography, with several medium-to-small size catchments, quantitative precipitation forecast becomes even more challenging due to the interaction of intense air-sea exchanges with coastal orography. For such areas, quite common in the Mediterranean basin, improved representation of Sea Surface Temperature (SST) space-time patterns can be particularly important. The paper focuses on the relative impact of different accuracy levels of SST representation on regional operational forecasting chains (up to river discharge estimates) over coastal Mediterranean catchments, with respect to other two fundamental options while setting up the system, i.e., the choice of the forcing GCM and the possible use of a three-dimensional variational assimilation (3DVAR) scheme. Two different kinds of severe hydro-meteorological events affecting the Calabria Region (Southern Italy) on 2015 are analysed using the atmosphere-hydrology modelling system WRF-Hydro in its uncoupled version. Both the events are modelled using the 0.25° resolution Global Forecasting System (GFS) and the ECMWF's 16 km resolution Integrated Forecasting System (IFS) initial and lateral atmospheric boundary conditions. For the IFS-driven forecasts, also the effects of the 3DVAR scheme are analysed. Finally, native initial and lower boundary SST data are replaced with data from the Medspiration Project by IFREMER/CERSAT, having a 24 hour time resolution and 2.2 km spatial resolution. Precipitation estimates are compared with both ground-based and radar data, as well as discharge estimates with stream gauging stations data. Overall, the experiments highlight that the added value of improved SST representation can be hidden by other more relevant sources of uncertainty, especially the choice of the General Circulation Model providing boundary conditions. Nevertheless, high-resolution SST fields show in most cases a not negligible impact on the simulation of the atmospheric boundary layer processes, modifying flow dynamics and/or the amount of precipitated water, therefore emphasizing that uncertainty in SST representation should be duly taken into account in coastal areas operational forecasting.

Alfonso Senatore et al.
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Alfonso Senatore et al.
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Short summary
How do the different accuracy levels of Sea Surface Temperature (SST) representation affect regional operational hydro-meteorological forecasting chains over coastal Mediterranean catchments? The paper addresses this question analysing two different severe events affecting Southern Italy on 2015. Even if the benefit of improved SST representation can be hidden by other sources of uncertainty, the experiments highlight in most cases a not negligible impact of high-resolution SST fields.
How do the different accuracy levels of Sea Surface Temperature (SST) representation affect...
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