Articles | Volume 17, issue 6
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 17, 2219–2232, 2013
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 17, 2219–2232, 2013

Research article 19 Jun 2013

Research article | 19 Jun 2013

Do probabilistic forecasts lead to better decisions?

M. H. Ramos1, S. J. van Andel2, and F. Pappenberger3 M. H. Ramos et al.
  • 1Irstea (formerly: Cemagref), Hydrology Group, UR HBAN, Antony, France
  • 2UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education, Delft, the Netherlands
  • 3ECMWF, European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts, Shinfield Park, Reading, UK

Abstract. The last decade has seen growing research in producing probabilistic hydro-meteorological forecasts and increasing their reliability. This followed the promise that, supplied with information about uncertainty, people would take better risk-based decisions. In recent years, therefore, research and operational developments have also started focusing attention on ways of communicating the probabilistic forecasts to decision-makers. Communicating probabilistic forecasts includes preparing tools and products for visualisation, but also requires understanding how decision-makers perceive and use uncertainty information in real time. At the EGU General Assembly 2012, we conducted a laboratory-style experiment in which several cases of flood forecasts and a choice of actions to take were presented as part of a game to participants, who acted as decision-makers. Answers were collected and analysed. In this paper, we present the results of this exercise and discuss if we indeed make better decisions on the basis of probabilistic forecasts.