Articles | Volume 13, issue 3
06 Mar 2009
 | 06 Mar 2009

Uncertainty analysis of hydrological ensemble forecasts in a distributed model utilising short-range rainfall prediction

Y. Xuan, I. D. Cluckie, and Y. Wang

Abstract. Advances in mesoscale numerical weather predication make it possible to provide rainfall forecasts along with many other data fields at increasingly higher spatial resolutions. It is currently possible to incorporate high-resolution NWPs directly into flood forecasting systems in order to obtain an extended lead time. It is recognised, however, that direct application of rainfall outputs from the NWP model can contribute considerable uncertainty to the final river flow forecasts as the uncertainties inherent in the NWP are propagated into hydrological domains and can also be magnified by the scaling process. As the ensemble weather forecast has become operationally available, it is of particular interest to the hydrologist to investigate both the potential and implication of ensemble rainfall inputs to the hydrological modelling systems in terms of uncertainty propagation. In this paper, we employ a distributed hydrological model to analyse the performance of the ensemble flow forecasts based on the ensemble rainfall inputs from a short-range high-resolution mesoscale weather model. The results show that: (1) The hydrological model driven by QPF can produce forecasts comparable with those from a raingauge-driven one; (2) The ensemble hydrological forecast is able to disseminate abundant information with regard to the nature of the weather system and the confidence of the forecast itself; and (3) the uncertainties as well as systematic biases are sometimes significant and, as such, extra effort needs to be made to improve the quality of such a system.