Maximizing Statistical Power When Verifying Probabilistic Forecasts of Hydrometeorological Events

Wednesday, 17 December 2014: 4:30 PM
Caleb M DeChant and Hamid Moradkhani, Portland State University, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Portland, OR, United States
Hydrometeorological events (i.e. floods, droughts, precipitation) are increasingly being forecasted probabilistically, owing to the uncertainties in the underlying causes of the phenomenon. In these forecasts, the probability of the event, over some lead time, is estimated based on some model simulations or predictive indicators. By issuing probabilistic forecasts, agencies may communicate the uncertainty in the event occurring. Assuming that the assigned probability of the event is correct, which is referred to as a reliable forecast, the end user may perform some risk management based on the potential damages resulting from the event. Alternatively, an unreliable forecast may give false impressions of the actual risk, leading to improper decision making when protecting resources from extreme events. Due to this requisite for reliable forecasts to perform effective risk management, this study takes a renewed look at reliability assessment in event forecasts. Illustrative experiments will be presented, showing deficiencies in the commonly available approaches (Brier Score, Reliability Diagram). Overall, it is shown that the conventional reliability assessment techniques do not maximize the ability to distinguish between a reliable and unreliable forecast. In this regard, a theoretical formulation of the probabilistic event forecast verification framework will be presented. From this analysis, hypothesis testing with the Poisson-Binomial distribution is the most exact model available for the verification framework, and therefore maximizes one’s ability to distinguish between a reliable and unreliable forecast. Application of this verification system was also examined within a real forecasting case study, highlighting the additional statistical power provided with the use of the Poisson-Binomial distribution.