Daily ensemble river discharge reforecasts and real-time forecasts from the operational Global Flood Awareness System

Harrigan, Shaun; Zsoter, Ervin; Cloke, Hannah; Salamon, Peter; Prudhomme, Christel. 2023 Daily ensemble river discharge reforecasts and real-time forecasts from the operational Global Flood Awareness System. Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, 27 (1). 1-19.

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Operational global-scale hydrological forecasting systems are used to help manage hydrological extremes such as floods and droughts. The vast amounts of raw data that underpin forecast systems and the ability to generate information on forecast skill have, until now, not been publicly available. As part of the Global Flood Awareness System (GloFAS;, last access: 3 December 2022) service evolution, in this paper daily ensemble river discharge reforecasts and real-time forecast datasets are made free and openly available through the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) Climate Data Store (CDS). They include real-time forecast data starting on 1 January 2020 updated operationally every day and a 20-year set of reforecasts and associated metadata. This paper describes the model components and configuration used to generate the real-time river discharge forecasts and the reforecasts. An evaluation of ensemble forecast skill using the continuous ranked probability skill score (CRPSS) was also undertaken for river points around the globe. Results show that GloFAS is skilful in over 93 % of catchments in the short (1 to 3 d) and medium range (5 to 15 d) against a persistence benchmark forecast and skilful in over 80 % of catchments out to the extended range (16 to 30 d) against a climatological benchmark forecast. However, the strength of skill varies considerably by location with GloFAS found to have no or negative skill at longer lead times in broad hydroclimatic regions in tropical Africa, western coast of South America, and catchments dominated by snow and ice in high northern latitudes. Forecast skill is summarised as a new headline skill score available as a new layer on the GloFAS forecast Web Map Viewer to aid user interpretation and understanding of forecast quality.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: UKCEH Fellows
ISSN: 1027-5606
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: Open Access paper - full text available via Official URL link.
NORA Subject Terms: Hydrology
Date made live: 04 Jan 2023 12:44 +0 (UTC)

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