Ensemble Forecasts with Useful Skill-Spread Relationships for African meningitis and Asia Streamflow Forecasting

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Thomas M Hopson, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, CO, United States
One potential benefit of an ensemble prediction system (EPS) is its capacity to forecast its own forecast error through the ensemble spread-error relationship. In practice, an EPS is often quite limited in its ability to represent the variable expectation of forecast error through the variable dispersion of the ensemble, and perhaps more fundamentally, in its ability to provide enough variability in the ensembles dispersion to make the skill-spread relationship even potentially useful (irrespective of whether the EPS is well-calibrated or not).

In this paper we examine the ensemble skill-spread relationship of an ensemble constructed from the TIGGE (THORPEX Interactive Grand Global Ensemble) dataset of global forecasts and a combination of multi-model and post-processing approaches. Both of the multi-model and post-processing techniques are based on quantile regression (QR) under a step-wise forward selection framework leading to ensemble forecasts with both good reliability and sharpness. The methodology utilizes the ensemble’s ability to self-diagnose forecast instability to produce calibrated forecasts with informative skill-spread relationships.

A context for these concepts is provided by assessing the constructed ensemble in forecasting district-level humidity impacting the incidence of meningitis in the meningitis belt of Africa, and in forecasting flooding events in the Brahmaputra and Ganges basins of South Asia.