Saturday 4 September 15:00 > 15:15

What is the impact of earth observation and in-situ data assimilation on seasonal hydrological predictions?

Dr. Ilias Pechlivanidis Dr. Jude Musuuza
Session: 55(P) Hydrology and water resources
CEST ID: 425 ROOM: C Paper Presentation
Earth Observations (EO) have become popular in hydrology because they provide information in locations where direct measurements are either unavailable or prohibitively expensive to make. Recent scientific advances have enabled the assimilation of EOs into hydrological models to improve the estimation of initial states and fluxes which can further lead to improved forecasting of different variables. When assimilated, the data exert additional controls on the quality of the forecasts; it is hence important to apportion the effects according to model forcings and the assimilated datasets. Here, we investigate the hydrological response and seasonal predictions over the snowmelt driven Umeälven catchment in northern Sweden. The HYPE hydrological model is driven by two meteorological forcings: (i) a downscaled GCM meteorological product based on the bias-adjusted ECMWF SEAS5 seasonal forecasts, and (ii) historical meteorological data based on the Ensemble Streamflow Prediction (ESP) technique. Six datasets are assimilated consisting of four EO products (fractional snow cover, snow water equivalent, and the actual and potential evapotranspiration) and two in-situ measurements (discharge and reservoir inflow). We finally assess the impacts of the meteorological forcing data and the assimilated EO and in-situ data on the quality of streamflow and reservoir inflow seasonal forecasting skill for the period 2001-2015. The results show that all assimilations generally improve the skill but the improvement varies depending on the season and assimilated variable. The lead times until when the data assimilations influence the forecast quality are also different for different datasets and seasons; as an example, the impact from assimilating snow water equivalent persists for more than 20 weeks during the spring. We finally show that the assimilated datasets exert more control on the forecasting skill than the meteorological forcing data, highlighting the importance of initial hydrological conditions for this snow-dominated river system.