Assessment and weighting of meteorological ensemble forecast members based on supervised machine learning with application to runoff simulations and flood warning

Doycheva, Kristina and Horn, Gordon and Koch, Christian and Schumann, Andreas and König, Markus (2017) Assessment and weighting of meteorological ensemble forecast members based on supervised machine learning with application to runoff simulations and flood warning. Advanced Engineering Informatics, 33 . pp. 427-439. ISSN 1474-0346

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Numerical weather forecasts, such as meteorological forecasts of precipitation, are inherently uncertain. These uncertainties depend on model physics as well as initial and boundary conditions. Since precipitation forecasts form the input into hydrological models, the uncertainties of the precipitation forecasts result in uncertainties of flood forecasts. In order to consider these uncertainties, ensemble prediction systems are applied. These systems consist of several members simulated by different models or using a single model under varying initial and boundary conditions. However, a too wide uncertainty range obtained as a result of taking into account members with poor prediction skills may lead to underestimation or exaggeration of the risk of hazardous events. Therefore, the uncertainty range of model-based flood forecasts derived from the meteorological ensembles has to be restricted.

In this paper, a methodology towards improving flood forecasts by weighting ensemble members according to their skills is presented. The skill of each ensemble member is evaluated by comparing the results of forecasts corresponding to this member with observed values in the past. Since numerous forecasts are required in order to reliably evaluate the skill, the evaluation procedure is time-consuming and tedious. Moreover, the evaluation is highly subjective, because an expert who performs it makes his decision based on his implicit knowledge.

Therefore, approaches for the automated evaluation of such forecasts are required. Here, we present a semi automated approach for the assessment of precipitation forecast ensemble members. The approach is based on supervised machine learning and was tested on ensemble precipitation forecasts for the area of the Mulde river basin in Germany. Based on the evaluation results of the specific ensemble members, weights corresponding to their forecast skill were calculated. These weights were then successfully used to reduce the uncertainties within rainfall-runoff simulations and flood risk predictions.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: precipitation forecast, supervised machine learning, pattern recognition, uncertainty
Schools/Departments: University of Nottingham, UK > Faculty of Engineering
Identification Number: 10.1016/j.aei.2016.11.001
Depositing User: Eprints, Support
Date Deposited: 17 Nov 2016 09:31
Last Modified: 12 Oct 2017 21:52

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