Articles | Volume 9, issue 4
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 9, 333–346, 2005
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-9-333-2005

Special issue: Advances in flood forecasting

Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 9, 333–346, 2005
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-9-333-2005

  07 Oct 2005

07 Oct 2005

Coupling meteorological and hydrological models for flood forecasting

Bartholmes1 and Todini2 Bartholmes and Todini
  • 1European Commission-DG Joint Research Centre, Institute for Environment and Sustainability, Via E, Fermi, TP 261, 21020, Ispra (Va), Italy
  • 2Department of Geo-Environmental Sciences, University of Bologna, Via Zamboni 67, 40126, Bologna, Italy
  • Email for corresponding author: jens.bartholmes@jrc.it

Abstract. This paper deals with the problem of analysing the coupling of meteorological meso-scale quantitative precipitation forecasts with distributed rainfall-runoff models to extend the forecasting horizon. Traditionally, semi-distributed rainfall-runoff models have been used for real time flood forecasting. More recently, increased computer capabilities allow the utilisation of distributed hydrological models with mesh sizes from tenths of metres to a few kilometres. On the other hand, meteorological models, providing the quantitative precipitation forecast, tend to produce average values on meshes ranging from slightly less than 10 to 200 kilometres. Therefore, to improve the quality of flood forecasts, the effects of coupling the meteorological and the hydrological models at different scales were analysed. A distributed hydrological model (TOPKAPI) was developed and calibrated using a 1x1 km mesh for the case of the river Po closed at Ponte Spessa (catchment area c. 37000 km2). The model was then coupled with several other European meteorological models ranging from the Limited Area Models (provided by DMI and DWD) with resolutions from 0.0625° * 0.0625°, to the ECMWF ensemble predictions with a resolution of 1.85° * 1.85°. Interesting results, describing the coupled model behaviour, are available for a meteorological extreme event in Northern Italy (Nov. 1994). The results demonstrate the poor reliability of the quantitative precipitation forecasts produced by meteorological models presently available; this is not resolved using the Ensemble Forecasting technique, when compared with results obtainable with measured rainfall.