Operational river discharge forecasting in poorly gauged basins: the Kavango River Basin case study

Peter Bauer-Gottwein, Iris Hedegaard Jensen, R. Guzinski, G. K. T. Bredtoft, S. Hansen, Claire Irene B. Michailovsky

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    Operational probabilistic forecasts of river discharge are essential for effective water resources management. Many studies have addressed this topic using different approaches ranging from purely statistical black-box approaches to physically-based and distributed modelling schemes employing data assimilation techniques. However, few studies have attempted to develop operational probabilistic forecasting approaches for large and poorly gauged river basins. This study is funded by the European Space Agency under the TIGER-NET project. The objective of TIGER-NET is to develop open-source software tools to support integrated water resources management in Africa and to facilitate the use of satellite earth observation data in water management. We present an operational probabilistic forecasting approach which uses public-domain climate forcing data and a hydrologic–hydrodynamic model which is entirely based on open-source software. Data assimilation techniques are used to inform the forecasts with the latest available observations. Forecasts are produced in real time for lead times of 0 to 7 days. The operational probabilistic forecasts are evaluated using a selection of performance statistics and indicators. The forecasting system delivers competitive forecasts for the Kavango River, which are reliable and sharp. Results indicate that the value of the forecasts is greatest for intermediate lead times between 4 and 7 days.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalHydrology and Earth System Sciences Discussions
    Publication statusPublished - 2014


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