A Multisite Seasonal Ensemble Streamflow Forecasting Technique

By Bracken, C., B. Rajagopalan, and J. Prairie, A Multisite Seasonal Ensemble Streamflow Forecasting Technique, Water Resources Research, 46, 2010. 

Abstract: We present a technique for providing seasonal ensemble streamflow forecasts at several locations simultaneously on a river network. The framework is an integration of two recent approaches: the nonparametric multimodel ensemble forecast technique and the nonparametric space‐time disaggregation technique. The four main components of the proposed framework are as follows: (1) an index gauge streamflow is constructed as the sum of flows at all the desired spatial locations; (2) potential predictors of the spring season (April–July) streamflow at this index gauge are identified from the large‐scale ocean‐atmosphere‐land system, including snow water equivalent; (3) the multimodel ensemble forecast approach is used to generate the ensemble flow forecast at the index gauge; and (4) the ensembles are disaggregated using a nonparametric space‐time disaggregation technique resulting in forecast ensembles at the desired locations and for all the months within the season. We demonstrate the utility of this technique in skillful forecast of spring seasonal streamflows at four locations in the Upper Colorado River Basin at different lead times. Where applicable, we compare the forecasts to the Colorado Basin River Forecast Center's Ensemble Streamflow Prediction (ESP) and the National Resource Conservation Service “coordinated” forecast, which is a combination of the ESP, Statistical Water Supply, a principal component regression technique, and modeler knowledge. We find that overall, the proposed method is equally skillful to existing operational models while tending to better predict wet years. The forecasts from this approach can be a valuable input for efficient planning and management of water resources in the basin.


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