Building a Multimodel Flood Prediction System with the TIGGE Archive

Zsóter E, Pappenberger F, Smith P, Emmerton RE, Dutra E, Wetterhall F, Richardson D, Bogner K, Balsamo G
AMS, JHM November 2016

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In the last decade operational probabilistic ensemble flood forecasts have become common in supporting decision-making processes leading to risk reduction. Ensemble forecasts can assess uncertainty, but they are limited to the uncertainty in a specific modeling system. Many of the current operational flood prediction systems use a multimodel approach to better represent the uncertainty arising from insufficient model structure. This study presents a multimodel approach to building a global flood prediction system using multiple atmospheric reanalysis datasets for river initial conditions and multiple TIGGE forcing inputs to the ECMWF land surface model. A sensitivity study is carried out to clarify the effect of using archive ensemble meteorological predictions and uncoupled land surface models. The probabilistic discharge forecasts derived from the different atmospheric models are compared with those from the multimodel combination. The potential for further improving forecast skill by bias correction and Bayesian model averaging is examined. The results show that the impact of the different TIGGE input variables in the HTESSEL/Catchment-Based Macroscale Floodplain model (CaMa-Flood) setup is rather limited other than for precipitation. This provides a sufficient basis for evaluation of the multimodel discharge predictions. The results also highlight that the three applied reanalysis datasets have different error characteristics that allow for large potential gains with a multimodel combination. It is shown that large improvements to the forecast performance for all models can be achieved through appropriate statistical postprocessing (bias and spread correction). A simple multimodel combination generally improves the forecasts, while a more advanced combination using Bayesian model averaging provides further benefits.