Articles | Volume 14, issue 8
24 Aug 2010
 | 24 Aug 2010

A past discharges assimilation system for ensemble streamflow forecasts over France – Part 1: Description and validation of the assimilation system

G. Thirel, E. Martin, J.-F. Mahfouf, S. Massart, S. Ricci, and F. Habets

Abstract. Two Ensemble Streamflow Prediction Systems (ESPSs) have been set up at Météo-France. They are based on the French SIM distributed hydrometeorological model. A deterministic analysis run of SIM is used to initialize the two ESPSs. In order to obtain a better initial state, a past discharges assimilation system has been implemented into this analysis SIM run, using the Best Linear Unbiased Estimator (BLUE). Its role is to improve the model soil moisture by using streamflow observations in order to better simulate streamflow. The skills of the assimilation system were assessed for a 569-day period on six different configurations, including two different physics schemes of the model (the use of an exponential profile of hydraulic conductivity or not) and, for each one, three different ways of considering the model soil moisture in the BLUE state variables. Respect of the linearity hypothesis of the BLUE was verified by assessing of the impact of iterations of the BLUE. The configuration including the use of the exponential profile of hydraulic conductivity and the combination of the moisture of the two soil layers in the state variable showed a significant improvement of streamflow simulations. It led to a significantly better simulation than the reference one, and the lowest soil moisture corrections. These results were confirmed by the study of the impacts of the past discharge assimilation system on a set of 49 independent stations.