Tracking the uncertainty in flood alerts driven by grand ensemble weather predictions

Y. He, F. Wetterhall, H. L. Cloke, F. Pappenberger, M. Wilson, J. Freer, G. McGregor

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109 Citations (Scopus)


The incorporation of numerical weather predictions (NWP) into a flood warning system can increase forecast lead times from a few hours to a few days. A single NWP forecast from a single forecast centre, however, is insufficient as it involves considerable non-predictable uncertainties and can lead to a high number of false or missed warnings. Weather forecasts using multiple NWPs from various weather centres implemented on catchment hydrology can provide significantly improved early flood warning. The availability of global ensemble weather prediction systems through the 'THORPEX Interactive Grand Global Ensemble' (TIGGE) offers a new opportunity for the development of state-of-the-art early flood forecasting systems. This paper presents a case study using the TIGGE database for flood warning on a meso-scale catchment (4062 km2) located in the Midlands region of England. For the first time, a research attempt is made to set up a coupled atmospheric-hydrologic-hydraulic cascade system driven by the TIGGE ensemble forecasts. A probabilistic discharge and flood inundation forecast is provided as the end product to study the potential benefits of using the TIGGE database. The study shows that precipitation input uncertainties dominate and propagate through the cascade chain. The current NWPs fall short of representing the spatial precipitation variability on such a comparatively small catchment, which indicates need to improve NWPs resolution and/or disaggregating techniques to narrow down the spatial gap between meteorology and hydrology. The spread of discharge forecasts varies from centre to centre, but it is generally large and implies a significant level of uncertainties. Nevertheless, the results show the TIGGE database is a promising tool to forecast flood inundation, comparable with that driven by raingauge observation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)91-101
Number of pages11
JournalMeteorological Applications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2009

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