Evaluation of ensemble streamflow predictions in Europe

Lorenzo Alfieri*, Florian Pappenberger, Fredrik Wetterhall, Thomas Haiden, David Richardson, Peter Salamon

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

68 Citations (Scopus)


In operational hydrological forecasting systems, improvements are directly related to the continuous monitoring of the forecast performance. An efficient evaluation framework must be able to spot issues and limitations and provide feedback to the system developers. In regional systems, the expertise of analysts on duty is a major component of the daily evaluation. On the other hand, large scale systems need to be complemented with semi-automated tools to evaluate the quality of forecasts equitably in every part of their domain.This article presents the current status of the monitoring and evaluation framework of the European Flood Awareness System (EFAS). For each grid point of the European river network, 10-day ensemble streamflow predictions are evaluated against a reference simulation which uses observed meteorological fields as input to a calibrated hydrological model. Performance scores are displayed over different regions, forecast lead times, basin sizes, as well as in time, considering average scores for moving 12-month windows of forecasts. Skilful predictions are found in medium to large rivers over the whole 10-day range. On average, performance drops significantly in river basins with upstream area smaller than 300km2, partly due to underestimation of the runoff in mountain areas. Model limitations and recommendations to improve the evaluation framework are discussed in the final section.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)913-922
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Hydrology
Publication statusPublished - 9 Sep 2014


  • CRPS
  • Distributed hydrological modelling
  • Ensemble streamflow predictions
  • Flood early warning
  • Skill scores

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