2002 Annual

Tuesday, 15 January 2002: 9:45 AM
The impact of horizontal resolution and ensemble size on probabilistic forecasts of precipitation by the ECMWF EPS
Steven L. Mullen, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ; and R. Buizza
The effect of horizontal resolution and ensemble size on the ECMWF Ensemble Prediction System (EPS) is assessed for probabilistic forecasts of 24-h accumulated precipitation. Two sets of experiments are analyzed. The primary experiment compares two spectral truncations (total wavenumbers 159 and 255) for 30 summer and 57 winter dates. An auxiliary experiment compares three truncations (total wavenumbers 159, 255 and 319) for 16 initial dates (eight cool and eight warm season events) during which heavy precipitation (> 50 mm) occurred over the eastern United States at day 5 of the forecast. Rain gauge data from the River Forecast Centers of NOAA are used for verification. Skill is measured relative to long-term climatic frequencies, and the statistical significance of differences in the accuracy among the forecasts is estimated.

The experiments indicate that finer model resolution produces statistically significant improvements in EPS performance for ensemble configurations with the same number of members, especially for lighter thresholds (1 mm and 10 mm per day). Performance changes when ensemble configurations with different resolutions and ensemble sizes, but equivalent computational costs, are compared for the heavier amounts (20 mm and 50 mm per day). Lower-resolution, larger member ensembles can outperform higher-resolution, smaller member ensembles in terms of ability to discriminate rain events, particularly during times in which heavy rain occurs.

The overall conclusion is that probabilistic forecasts of precipitation from large ensemble sizes at lower resolution can be more skillful and more valuable to users and decision makers than probabilistic forecasts from smaller ensemble sizes at higher resolution, particularly when heavy precipitation occurs.

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