Development and evaluation of a pan-European multimodel seasonal hydrological forecasting system

Niko Wanders, Stephan Thober, Rohini Kumar, Ming Pan, Justin Sheffield, Luis Samaniego, Eric F. Wood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


Hydrological forecasts with a high temporal and spatial resolution are required to provide the level of information needed by end users. So far high-resolution multimodel seasonal hydrological forecasts have been unavailable due to 1) lack of availability of high-resolution meteorological seasonal forecasts, requiring temporal and spatial downscaling; 2) a mismatch between the provided seasonal forecast information and the user needs; and 3) lack of consistency between the hydrological model outputs to generate multimodel seasonal hydrological forecasts. As part of the End-to-End Demonstrator for Improved Decision Making in the Water Sector in Europe (EDgE) project commissioned by the Copernicus Climate Change Service (ECMWF), this study provides a unique dataset of seasonal hydrological forecasts derived from four general circulation models [CanCM4, GFDL Forecast-Oriented Low Ocean Resolution version of CM2.5 (GFDL-FLOR), ECMWF Season Forecast System 4 (ECMWF-S4), and Météo-France LFPW] in combination with four hydrological models [mesoscale hydrologic model (mHM), Noah-MP, PCRaster Global Water Balance (PCR-GLOBWB), and VIC]. The forecasts are provided at daily resolution, 6-month lead time, and 5-km spatial resolution over the historical period from 1993 to 2012. Consistency in hydrological model parameterization ensures an increased consistency in the hydrological forecasts. Results show that skillful discharge forecasts can be made throughout Europe up to 3 months in advance, with predictability up to 6 months for northern Europe resulting from the improved predictability of the spring snowmelt. The new system provides an unprecedented ensemble of seasonal hydrological forecasts with significant skill over Europe to support water management. This study highlights the potential advantages of multimodel based forecasting system in providing skillful hydrological forecasts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)99-115
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Hydrometeorology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


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