Calibrated ensemble forecasts of the height of new snow using quantile regression forests and ensemble model output statistics

Evin, Guillaume ; Lafaysse, Matthieu ; Taillardat, Maxime ; Zamo, Michaël

Année de publication
<p align=justify>Height of new snow (HN) forecasts help to prevent critical failures of infrastructures in mountain areas, e.g. transport networks and ski resorts. The French national meteorological service, Météo-France, operates a probabilistic forecasting system based on ensemble meteorological forecasts and a detailed snowpack model to provide ensembles of HN forecasts. These forecasts are, however, biased and underdispersed. As for many weather variables, post-processing methods can be used to alleviate these drawbacks and obtain meaningful 1 to 4 <span class="inline-formula">d</span> HN forecasts. In this paper, we compare the skill of two post-processing methods. The first approach is an ensemble model output statistics (EMOS) method, which can be described as a nonhomogeneous regression with a censored shifted Gamma distribution. The second approach is based on quantile regression forests, using different meteorological and snow predictors. Both approaches are evaluated using a 22 <span class="inline-formula">year</span> reforecast. Thanks to a larger number of predictors, the quantile regression forest is shown to be a powerful alternative to EMOS for the post-processing of HN ensemble forecasts. The gain of performance is large in all situations but is particularly marked when raw forecasts completely miss the snow event. This type of situation happens when the rain-snow transition elevation is overestimated by the raw forecasts (rain instead of snow in the raw forecasts) or when there is no precipitation in the forecast. In that case, quantile regression forests improve the predictions using the other weather predictors (wind, temperature, and specific humidity).</p>
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