Informing hydrometric network design for statistical seasonal streamflow forecasts

TitleInforming hydrometric network design for statistical seasonal streamflow forecasts
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsRosenberg EA, Wood A.W, Steinemann AC
JournalJournal of Hydrometeorology
Date Published2013/10
Type of ArticleArticle
ISBN Number1525-755X
Accession NumberWOS:000330532300013
Keywordsconterminous united-states; fluxes; hydrologically based dataset; land-surface; precipitation; runoff; snow; soil-moisture

A hydrometric network design approach is developed for enhancing statistical seasonal streamflow forecasts. The approach employs gridded, model-simulated water balance variables as predictors in equations generated via principal components regression in order to identify locations for additional observations that most improve forecast skill. The approach is applied toward the expansion of the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Snowpack Telemetry (SNOTEL) network in 24 western U.S. basins using two forecasting scenarios: one that assumes the currently standard predictors of snow water equivalent and water year-to-date precipitation and one that considers soil moisture as an additional predictor variable. Resulting improvements are spatially and temporally analyzed, attributed to dominant predictor contributions, and evaluated in the context of operational NRCS forecasts, ensemble-based National Weather Service (NWS) forecasts, and historical as-issued NRCS/NWS coordinated forecasts. Findings indicate that, except for basins with sparse existing networks, substantial improvements in forecast skill are only possible through the addition of soil moisture variables. Furthermore, locations identified as optimal for soil moisture sensor installation are primarily found in regions of low to mid elevation, in contrast to the higher elevations where SNOTEL stations are traditionally situated. The study corroborates prior research while demonstrating that soil moisture data can explicitly improve operational water supply forecasts (particularly during the accumulation season), that statistical forecasts are comparable in skill to ensemble-based forecasts, and that simulated hydrologic data can be combined with observations to improve statistical forecasts. The approach can be generalized to other settings and applications involving the use of point observations for statistical prediction models.

Short TitleJ. Hydrometeorol.
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