Progress in the development of seasonal hydrological forecasts

Seasonal forecasts can have great potential for many groups that are affected by climatic variations and that could manage such variations to their advantage through better understanding. Progress is being made right now in the development of seasonal hydrological forecasts.

Europe has made relatively little use of seasonal forecasts compared with other parts of the world, such as Africa, the USA and Australia. Now that seasonal meteorological forecasts have improved, the credibility of hydrological forecasts is better and that also increases the benefits for end-users.

“A strong community is under development at the moment to assess the ability and usability of the seasonal hydrological forecasts in Europe. SMHI plays a key role in understanding the meteorological and hydrological systems and advance operational seasonal hydrological predictions,” says Ilias Pechlivanidis, researcher at SMHIs hydrological research unit.

Participants at the HEPEX meeting in September 2015 at SMHI.
Participants at the HEPEX meeting in September 2015 at SMHI.

Researchers and end-users meet

Researchers, forecast hydrologists and end-users from around the world gathered in a working meeting at SMHI in Norrköping to discuss the latest developments in seasonal forecasts of hydrology and its application in water management. Around 60 participants from 18 countries took part. The meeting was organised by HEPEX, an association of researchers and users within hydrological forecasting and hydro-meteorological probability forecasting.

The scientific theme of the meeting was progress in seasonal forecasting in terms of predictability and uncertainty assessments, and its usefulness for risk management and water management. It also focused on the dissemination and practical benefits of the forecasts, to bridge the gap between research and end-users.

“This was an important aspect, to guide the development in the right direction and including specific user needs,” says Maria-Helena Ramos, researcher at the French organisation Irstea and co-organiser of the meeting.

“The workshop set up the basis for a seasonal forecasting experiment with the goal to put together an international research effort to evaluate and compare various hydrological seasonal forecasting systems and bias correction methods,” says Fredrik Wetterhall, researcher at the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF), and co-organiser of the meeting.

Development at SMHI

In the area of hydrology, SMHI is working to develop seasonal forecasts, integrated water management and multidisciplinary approaches to increase the predictability of extreme incidents. These are subjects at the core of many research projects and operational approaches.