Extending medium-range predictability of extreme hydrological events in Europe

TitleExtending medium-range predictability of extreme hydrological events in Europe
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsLavers D.A, Pappenberger F., Zsoter E.
JournalNature Communications
Date Published2014/11
Type of ArticleArticle
ISBN Number2041-1723
Accession NumberWOS:000345624800003
Keywordsatmospheric rivers; flood alert system; forecasts; impacts; moisture; precipitation extremes; skill

Widespread flooding occurred across northwest Europe during the winter of 2013/14, resulting in large socioeconomic damages. In the historical record, extreme hydrological events have been connected with intense water vapour transport. Here we show that water vapour transport has higher medium-range predictability compared with precipitation in the winter 2013/14 forecasts from the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts. Applying the concept of potential predictability, the transport is found to extend the forecast horizon by 3 days in some European regions. Our results suggest that the breakdown in precipitation predictability is due to uncertainty in the horizontal mass convergence location, an essential mechanism for precipitation generation. Furthermore, the predictability increases with larger spatial averages. Given the strong association between precipitation and water vapour transport, especially for extreme events, we conclude that the higher transport predictability could be used as a model diagnostic to increase preparedness for extreme hydrological events.

Short TitleNat. Commun.
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