Relative effects of statistical preprocessing and postprocessing on a regional hydrological ensemble prediction system

Sanjib Sharma, Ridwan Siddique, Seann Reed, Peter Ahnert, Pablo Mendoza, Alfonso Mejia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


The relative roles of statistical weather preprocessing and streamflow postprocessing in hydrological ensemble forecasting at short-to medium-range forecast lead times (day 1-7) are investigated. For this purpose, a regional hydrologic ensemble prediction system (RHEPS) is developed and implemented. The RHEPS is comprised of the following components: (i) hydrometeorological observations (multisensor precipitation estimates, gridded surface temperature, and gauged streamflow); (ii) weather ensemble forecasts (precipitation and near-surface temperature) from the National Centers for Environmental Prediction 11-member Global Ensemble Forecast System Reforecast version 2 (GEFSRv2); (iii) NOAA's Hydrology Laboratory-Research Distributed Hydrologic Model (HL-RDHM); (iv) heteroscedastic censored logistic regression (HCLR) as the statistical preprocessor; (v) two statistical postprocessors, an autoregressive model with a single exogenous variable (ARX(1,1)) and quantile regression (QR); and (vi) a comprehensive verification strategy. To implement the RHEPS, 1 to 7 days weather forecasts from the GEFSRv2 are used to force HL-RDHM and generate raw ensemble streamflow forecasts. Forecasting experiments are conducted in four nested basins in the US Middle Atlantic region, ranging in size from 381 to 12 362 km2. Results show that the HCLR preprocessed ensemble precipitation forecasts have greater skill than the raw forecasts. These improvements are more noticeable in the warm season at the longer lead times (>3 days). Both postprocessors, ARX(1,1) and QR, show gains in skill relative to the raw ensemble streamflow forecasts, particularly in the cool season, but QR outperforms ARX(1,1). The scenarios that implement preprocessing and postprocessing separately tend to perform similarly, although the postprocessing-alone scenario is often more effective. The scenario involving both preprocessing and postprocessing consistently outperforms the other scenarios. In some cases, however, the differences between this scenario and the scenario with postprocessing alone are not as significant. We conclude that implementing both preprocessing and postprocessing ensures the most skill improvements, but postprocessing alone can often be a competitive alternative.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1831-1849
Number of pages19
JournalHydrology and Earth System Sciences
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 13 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)


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