A methodology for probabilistic real-time forecasting – an urban case study

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Courtesy of IWA Publishing

The phenomenon of urban flooding due to rainfall exceeding the design capacity of drainage systems is a global problem and can have significant economic and social consequences. The complex nature of quantitative precipitation forecasts (QPFs) from numerical weather prediction (NWP) models has facilitated a need to model and manage uncertainty. This paper presents a probabilistic approach for modelling uncertainty from single-valued QPFs at different forecast lead times. The uncertainty models in the form of probability distributions of rainfall forecasts combined with a sewer model is an important advancement in real-time forecasting at the urban scale. The methodological approach utilized in this paper involves a retrospective comparison between historical forecasted rainfall from a NWP model and observed rainfall from rain gauges from which conditional probability distributions of rainfall forecasts are derived. Two different sampling methods, respectively, a direct rainfall quantile approach and the Latin hypercube sampling-based method were used to determine the uncertainty in forecasted variables (water level, volume) for a test urban area, the city of Aarhus. The results show the potential for applying probabilistic rainfall forecasts and their subsequent use in urban drainage forecasting for estimation of prediction uncertainty.

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