Articles | Volume 12, issue 8
Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 12, 2439–2448, 2012

Special issue: ICT-based hydrometeorology science and natural disaster societal...

Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 12, 2439–2448, 2012

Research article 03 Aug 2012

Research article | 03 Aug 2012

Uncertainty propagation for flood forecasting in the Alps: different views and impacts from MAP D-PHASE

M. W. Rotach1,*, M. Arpagaus2, M. Dorninger3, C. Hegg4, A. Montani5, and R. Ranzi6 M. W. Rotach et al.
  • 1University of Innsbruck, Institute for Meteorology and Geophysics, Innsbruck, Austria
  • 2Federal Office for Meteorology and Climatology (MeteoSwiss), Zurich, Switzerland
  • 3University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria
  • 4WSL, Swiss Federal Institute for Forest Snow and Landscape Research, Birmensdorf, Switzerland
  • 5ARPA-SIMC, Bologna, Italy
  • 6University of Brescia, Italy
  • *formerly at: Federal Office for Meteorology and Climatology (MeteoSwiss), Zurich, Switzerland

Abstract. D-PHASE was a Forecast Demonstration Project of the World Weather Research Programme (WWRP) related to the Mesoscale Alpine Programme (MAP). Its goal was to demonstrate the reliability and quality of operational forecasting of orographically influenced (determined) precipitation in the Alps and its consequences on the distribution of run-off characteristics. A special focus was, of course, on heavy-precipitation events.

The D-PHASE Operations Period (DOP) ran from June to November~2007, during which an end-to-end forecasting system was operated covering many individual catchments in the Alps, with their water authorities, civil protection organizations or other end users. The forecasting system's core piece was a Visualization Platform where precipitation and flood warnings from some 30 atmospheric and 7 hydrological models (both deterministic and probabilistic) and corresponding model fields were displayed in uniform and comparable formats. Also, meteograms, nowcasting information and end user communication was made available to all the forecasters, users and end users. D-PHASE information was assessed and used by some 50 different groups ranging from atmospheric forecasters to civil protection authorities or water management bodies.

In the present contribution, D-PHASE is briefly presented along with its outstanding scientific results and, in particular, the lessons learnt with respect to uncertainty propagation. A focus is thereby on the transfer of ensemble prediction information into the hydrological community and its use with respect to other aspects of societal impact. Objective verification of forecast quality is contrasted to subjective quality assessments during the project (end user workshops, questionnaires) and some general conclusions concerning forecast demonstration projects are drawn.