Meteorological Applications, 13, 73-82

A Bayesian approach for multi-model downscaling: Seasonal forecasting of regional rainfall and river flows in South America

Caio A. S. Coelho, David B. Stephenson
Dept. of Meteorology, Univ. of Reading
RG6 6BB, Reading, UK

Francisco J. Doblas-Reyes, Magdalena Balmaseda
ECMWF, Shinfield Park
RG2 9AX, Reading, UK

Alexander Guetter
Instituto Tecnologico SIMEPAR, Centro Politecnico da UFPR
Jardim das Americas, Caixa Postal 19100, CEP 81531-990, Curitiba, PR, Brazil

Geert Jan van Oldenborgh
Royal Dutch Meteorological Institute
P.O. Box 201, 3730 AE De Bilt, The Netherlands

This study addresses three issues: spatial downscaling, calibration, and combination of seasonal predictions produced by different coupled ocean-atmosphere climate models. It examines the feasibility of using a Bayesian procedure for producing combined, well-calibrated downscaled seasonal rainfall forecasts for two regions in South America and river flow forecasts for the Paran river in the south of Brazil and the Tocantins river in the north of Brazil. These forecasts are important for national electricity generation management and planning. A Bayesian procedure, referred to here as forecast assimilation, is used to combine and calibrate the rainfall predictions produced by three climate models. Forecast assimilation is able to improve the skill of 3-month lead November-December-January multi-model rainfall predictions over the two South American regions. Improvements are noted in forecast seasonal mean values and uncertainty estimates. River flow forecasts are less skilful than rainfall forecasts. This is partially because natural river flow is a derived quantity that is sensitive to hydrological as well as meteorological processes, and to human intervention in the form of reservoir management.

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