Abstract

The objective of this work was to evaluate the benefits of using multi-model meteorological ensembles in representing the uncertainty of hydrologic forecasts. An inter-comparison experiment was performed using meteorological inputs from different models corresponding to Hurricane Irene (2011), over three sub-basins of the Hudson River basin. The ensemble-based precipitation inputs were used as forcing in a hydrological model to retrospectively forecast hourly streamflow, with a 96-hour lead time. The inputs consisted of 73 ensemble members, namely one high-resolution ECMWF deterministic member, 51 ECMWF members and 21 NOAA/ESRL (GEFS Reforecasts v2) members. The precipitation inputs were resampled to a common grid using the bilinear resampling method that was selected upon analysing different resampling methods. The results show the advantages of forcing hydrologic forecasting systems with multi-model ensemble forecasts over using deterministic and single model ensemble forecasts. The work showed that using the median of all 73 ensemble streamflow forecasts relatively improved the Nash–Sutcliffe Efficiency and lowered the biases across the examined sub-basins, compared to using the ensemble median from an individual model. This research contributes to the growing literature that demonstrates the promising capabilities of multi-model systems to better describe the uncertainty in streamflow predictions.

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