Area-covering postprocessing of ensemble precipitation forecasts using topographical and seasonal conditions

Friedli, Lea; Ginsbourger, David; Bhend, Jonas (2021). Area-covering postprocessing of ensemble precipitation forecasts using topographical and seasonal conditions. Stochastic environmental research and risk assessment, 35(2), pp. 215-230. Springer 10.1007/s00477-020-01928-4

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Probabilistic weather forecasts from ensemble systems require statistical postprocessing to yield calibrated and sharp predictive distributions. This paper presents an area-covering postprocessing method for ensemble precipitation predictions. We rely on the ensemble model output statistics (EMOS) approach, which generates probabilistic forecasts with a parametric distribution whose parameters depend on (statistics of) the ensemble prediction. A case study with daily precipitation predictions across Switzerland highlights that postprocessing at observation locations indeed improves high-resolution ensemble forecasts, with 4.5% CRPS reduction on average in the case of a lead time of 1 day. Our main aim is to achieve such an improvement without binding the model to stations, by leveraging topographical covariates. Specifically, regression coefficients are estimated by weighting the training data in relation to the topographical similarity between their station of origin and the prediction location. In our case study, this approach is found to reproduce the performance of the local model without using local historical data for calibration. We further identify that one key difficulty is that postprocessing often degrades the performance of the ensemble forecast during summer and early autumn. To mitigate, we additionally estimate on the training set whether postprocessing at a specific location is expected to improve the prediction. If not, the direct model output is used. This extension reduces the CRPS of the topographical model by up to another 1.7% on average at the price of a slight degradation in calibration. In this case, the highest improvement is achieved for a lead time of 4 days.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Department of Mathematics and Statistics > Institute of Mathematical Statistics and Actuarial Science
10 Strategic Research Centers > Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research (OCCR)

UniBE Contributor:

Ginsbourger, David


300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology > 360 Social problems & social services
500 Science > 510 Mathematics
500 Science > 550 Earth sciences & geology








David Ginsbourger

Date Deposited:

11 Apr 2022 15:43

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 16:18

Publisher DOI:





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