Quantification of the inherent uncertainty in hydrologic forecasting is essential for flood control and water resources management. The existing approaches, such as Bayesian model averaging (BMA), hydrologic uncertainty processor (HUP), copula-BMA (CBMA), aim at developing reliable probabilistic forecasts to characterize the uncertainty induced by model structures. In the probability forecast framework, these approaches either assume the probability density function (PDF) to follow a certain distribution, or are unable to reduce bias effectively for complex hydrological forecasts. To overcome these limitations, a copula Bayesian processor associated with BMA (CBP-BMA) method is proposed with ensemble lumped hydrological models. Comparing with the BMA and CBMA methods, the CBP-BMA method relaxes any assumption on the distribution of conditional PDFs. Several evaluation criteria, such as containing ratio, average bandwidth and average deviation amplitude of probabilistic application, are utilized to evaluate the model performance. The case study results demonstrate that the CBP-BMA method can improve hydrological forecasting precision with higher cover ratios more than 90%, which are increased by 4.4% and 3.2%, 2.2% and 1.7% over those of BMA and CBMA during the calibration and validation periods, respectively. The proposed CBP-BMA method provides an alternative approach for uncertainty estimation of hydrological multi-model forecasts.

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