Articles | Volume 8, issue 3
08 May 2008
08 May 2008

Introducing uncertainty of radar-rainfall estimates to the verification of mesoscale model precipitation forecasts

M. P. Mittermaier

Abstract. A simple measure of the uncertainty associated with using radar-derived rainfall estimates as "truth" has been introduced to the Numerical Weather Prediction (NWP) verification process to assess the effect on forecast skill and errors. Deterministic precipitation forecasts from the mesoscale version of the UK Met Office Unified Model for a two-day high-impact event and for a month were verified at the daily and six-hourly time scale using a spatially-based intensity-scale method and various traditional skill scores such as the Equitable Threat Score (ETS) and log-odds ratio. Radar-rainfall accumulations from the UK Nimrod radar-composite were used.

The results show that the inclusion of uncertainty has some effect, shifting the forecast errors and skill. The study also allowed for the comparison of results from the intensity-scale method and traditional skill scores. It showed that the two methods complement each other, one detailing the scale and rainfall accumulation thresholds where the errors occur, the other showing how skillful the forecast is. It was also found that for the six-hourly forecasts the error distributions remain similar with forecast lead time but skill decreases. This highlights the difference between forecast error and forecast skill, and that they are not necessarily the same.