22 Feb 2021

22 Feb 2021

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal HESS.

The benefits of pre- and postprocessing streamflow forecasts for an operational flood-forecasting system of 119 Norwegian catchments

Trine J. Hegdahl1, Kolbjørn Engeland1,2, Ingelin Steinsland3, and Andrew Singleton4 Trine J. Hegdahl et al.
  • 1Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate, Hydrological Modelling, 0301 Oslo, Norway
  • 2University of Oslo, Department of Geosciences, 0316 Oslo, Norway
  • 3Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Department of Mathematical Sciences, 7034 Trondheim, Norway
  • 4Norwegian Meteorological Institute, 0313 Oslo, Norway

Abstract. The novelty of this study is to evaluate the univariate and the combined effects of including both precipitation and temperature forecasts in the preprocessing together with the postprocessing of streamflow for forecasting of floods as well as all streamflow values for a large sample of catchments. A hydrometeorological forecasting chain in an operational flood forecasting setting with 119 Norwegian catchments was used. This study evaluates the added value of pre- and postprocessing methods for ensemble forecasts in a hydrometeorological forecasting chain in an operational flood forecasting setting with 119 Norwegian catchments. Two years of ECMWF ensemble forecasts of temperature (T) and precipitation (P) with a lead-time up to 9 days were used to force the operational hydrological HBV model to establish streamflow forecasts. Two approaches to preprocess the temperature and precipitation forecasts were tested. 1) An existing approach applied to the gridded forecasts using quantile mapping for temperature and a Bernoulli-gamma distribution for precipitation. 2) Bayesian model averaging (BMA) applied to catchment average values of temperature and precipitation. BMA was also used for postprocessing catchment streamflow forecasts. Ensemble forecasts of streamflow were generated for a total of fourteen schemes based on combinations of raw, preprocessed, and postprocessed forecasts in the hydrometeorological forecasting chain. The aim of this study is to assess which pre- and postprocessing approaches should be used to improve streamflow and flood forecasts and look for regional or seasonal patterns in preferred approaches.

The forecasts were evaluated for two datasets: i) all streamflows and ii) flood events with streamflow above mean annual flood. Evaluations were based on reliability, continuous ranked probability score (CRPS) and -skill score (CRPSS). For the flood dataset, the critical success index (CSI) was used. Evaluations based on all streamflow data showed that postprocessing improved the forecasts only up to a lead-time of two to three days, whereas preprocessing T and P using BMA improved the forecasts for 50 %–90 % of the catchments beyond three days lead-time. However, for flood events, the added value of pre- and postprocessing is smaller. Preprocessing of P and T gave better CRPS for marginally more catchments compared to the other schemes.

Based on CSI, we found that many of the forecast schemes perform equally well. Further, we found large differences in the ability to issue warnings between spring and autumn floods. There was almost no ability to predict autumn floods beyond 3 days, whereas the spring floods had predictability up to 9 days for many events and catchments. The results indicate that the ensemble forecasts have problems in predicting correct autumn precipitation, and the uncertainty is larger for heavy autumn precipitation compared to spring events when temperature driven snow melt is important. To summarize we find that the flood forecasts benefit from most pre-and postprocessing schemes, although the best processing approaches depend on region, catchment, and season, and that the processing scheme should be tailored to each catchment, lead time, season and the purpose of the forecasting.

Trine J. Hegdahl et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on hess-2021-13', Anonymous Referee #1, 31 Mar 2021
  • RC2: 'Comment on hess-2021-13', Anonymous Referee #2, 20 Apr 2021

Trine J. Hegdahl et al.

Trine J. Hegdahl et al.


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Short summary
To provide improved and reliable flood forecasts we have evaluated ensemble forecasts for 119 catchments. We applied correction (processing) schemes to temperature, precipitation, and streamflow. The performance of the corrections schemes depends on catchments, season, and lead time. Postprocessing streamflow was less important for floods. Spring floods had a longer predictability than autumn floods, and the study revealed regions and seasons with potential for improvements.