Articles | Volume 13, issue 4
Research article
19 Apr 2013
Research article |  | 19 Apr 2013

Effects of temperature on flood forecasting: analysis of an operative case study in Alpine basins

A. Ceppi, G. Ravazzani, A. Salandin, D. Rabuffetti, A. Montani, E. Borgonovo, and M. Mancini

Abstract. In recent years the interest in the forecast and prevention of natural hazards related to hydro-meteorological events has increased the challenge for numerical weather modelling, in particular for limited area models, to improve the quantitative precipitation forecasts (QPF) for hydrological purposes.

After the encouraging results obtained in the MAP D-PHASE Project, we decided to devote further analyses to show recent improvements in the operational use of hydro-meteorological chains, and above all to better investigate the key role played by temperature during snowy precipitation.

In this study we present a reanalysis simulation of one meteorological event, which occurred in November 2008 in the Piedmont Region. The attention is focused on the key role of air temperature, which is a crucial feature in determining the partitioning of precipitation in solid and liquid phase, influencing the quantitative discharge forecast (QDF) into the Alpine region. This is linked to the basin ipsographic curve and therefore by the total contributing area related to the snow line of the event.

In order to assess hydrological predictions affected by meteorological forcing, a sensitivity analysis of the model output was carried out to evaluate different simulation scenarios, considering the forecast effects which can radically modify the discharge forecast.

Results show how in real-time systems hydrological forecasters have to consider also the temperature uncertainty in forecasts in order to better understand the snow dynamics and its effect on runoff during a meteorological warning with a crucial snow line over the basin.

The hydrological ensemble forecasts are based on the 16 members of the meteorological ensemble system COSMO-LEPS (developed by ARPA-SIMC) based on the non-hydrostatic model COSMO, while the hydrological model used to generate the runoff simulations is the rainfall–runoff distributed FEST-WB model, developed at Politecnico di Milano.