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How well do operational Numerical Weather Prediction configurations represent hydrology?

Zsoter, E., Cloke, H., Stephens, E., De Rosnay, P., Muñoz-Sabater, J., Prudhomme, C. and Pappenberger, F. (2019) How well do operational Numerical Weather Prediction configurations represent hydrology? Journal of Hydrometeorology, 20 (8). pp. 1533-1552. ISSN 1525-7541

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1175/JHM-D-18-0086.1


Land surface models (LSMs) have traditionally been designed to focus on providing lower boundary conditions to the atmosphere with less focus on hydrological processes. State of the art application of LSMs include land data assimilation system (LDAS) which incorporates available land surface observations to provide an improved realism of surface conditions. While improved representations of the surface variables (such as soil moisture and snow depth) make LDAS an essential component of any Numerical Weather Prediction (NWP) system, the related increments remove or add water, potentially having a negative impact on the simulated hydrological cycle by opening the water budget. This paper focuses on evaluating how well global NWP configurations are able to support hydrological applications, in addition to the traditional weather forecasting. River discharge simulations from two climatological reanalyses are compared: one ‘online’ set which includes land-atmosphere coupling and LDAS with an open water budget, and also an ‘offline’ set with a closed water budget and no LDAS. It was found that while the online version of the model largely improves temperature and snow depth conditions, it caused poorer representation of peak river flow, particularly in snowmelt-dominated areas in the high latitudes. Without addressing such issues there will never be confidence in using LSMs for hydrological forecasting applications across the globe. This type of analysis should be used to diagnose where improvements need to be made; considering the whole Earth System in the data assimilation and coupling developments is critical for moving towards the goal of holistic Earth System approaches.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science > Department of Geography and Environmental Science
Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:83453
Publisher:American Meteorological Society


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