Original paper

Predictability of convective precipitation for West Africa: verification of convection-permitting and global ensemble simulations

Maurer, Vera; Kalthoff, Norbert; Gantner, Leonhard

Meteorologische Zeitschrift Vol. 26 No. 1 (2017), p. 93 - 110

60 references

published: Feb 13, 2017
published online: Sep 8, 2016
manuscript accepted: May 11, 2016
manuscript revision received: Jan 11, 2016
manuscript revision requested: Nov 17, 2015
manuscript received: Aug 28, 2015

DOI: 10.1127/metz/2016/0728

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Within the framework of this investigation, convection-permitting (CP) ensemble forecasts were generated for West Africa by combining different initial and lateral boundary conditions (IBCs) with perturbations that address the uncertainty of land-surface atmosphere interactions (land-surface perturbations). For a multi-analysis setup, IBCs were taken from model analyses of different global models; for a single-model setup, they were selected from the ensemble system of the European Centre for Medium-range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF). The different ensemble setups were assessed using common probabilistic scores as well as by spatial forecast verification of precipitation generated mainly by convective systems during the West African monsoon season. Additionally, it was investigated whether the CP ensemble forecasts were superior to the ECMWF ensemble forecasts.Probabilistic scores were higher for the single-model ensemble than for the multi-analysis setup, but the latter displayed a larger dispersion and more extreme scenarios. From this, it is concluded that the different model analyses can differ strongly from each other. The land-surface perturbations were able to generate sufficient complementary spread. While the CP simulations showed a stronger negative precipitation bias in the southernmost region near the Guinean coast, the ECMWF simulations exhibited a negative bias further north in the Sahel region, where larger convective systems occur less frequently. Not in all cases did the CP ensemble versions produce better probabilistic scores than the global ensemble forecasts, but they yielded larger spread and less underdispersion. Rank histograms, though, were also influenced by the different structure of the precipitation patterns of the global and CP forecasts. Scores improved when using a later version of the CP model as well as with the skill of the global ensemble forecasts used as IBCs. Altogether, the proposed realization of CP ensemble forecasts is found to be suited for the prediction of convective precipitation in West Africa.


SahelCOSMO modelECMWF EPSsoil moistureland-surface perturbationssoil-moisture ensemble