System for hydrometeorological seasonal forecasts in semi-arid regions

#seasonal forecasts #droughts #water management #arid regions #decision support
A screenshot of the online forecasting tool, which shows the predicted precipitation categories on a map over the Blue Nile and Tekeze-Atbara basins in Ethiopia and Sudan for July 2020. The probability is colour-coded, with colour intensity increasing with increasing probability. The categories for above-average, normal and below-average precipitation are derived from the climatology from 1981 to 2016. Sidebars, a legend box and time slider show further functionalities and selection options of the online forecast tool.
Seasonal forecast for the transboundary region between Ethiopia and Sudan for the month of July 2020. During that period, heavy rainfall raised the water level of the Blue Nile to over 17 meters, causing devastating floods in large parts of Sudan, with over 100 dead. At the beginning of July, our forecasts predicted that there would be a high probability of above-average precipitation in the upper reaches of the Blue Nile in July and August. © Christof Lorenz (KIT), GAF AG

A system for hydrometeorological seasonal forecasting was developed to estimate available water resources in the coming months and predict droughts and other extreme climatological events. The system makes regular, high-resolution precipitation and temperature forecasts available to the public.

The sustainable distribution and management of water resources in semi-arid regions is becoming more and more complex, particularly due to climate change and population growth. As a result, the timely (i.e. well before periods of little or high precipitation) development of actions and management strategies is getting more and more crucial. Otherwise there is a risk of crop failures or shortages in the drinking water supply due to droughts and dry periods or floods due to heavy rainfall, which can cause a great deal of destruction. Action must be planned and taken as early as possible, which is why seasonal forecasts with forecast horizons of up to 12 months are increasingly used to support decision-making. However, the raw forecasts of the meteorological services cannot be used directly because they have too coarse a spatial resolution and are subject to model errors. We have developed a system that adapts (regionalises) the seasonal forecasts of the European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) to various climatically sensitive target regions and substantially improves the quality of the forecasts. In addition to the current forecasts, our system uses information from the past, so that statements can also be made about dry, humid, warm or cold periods. These categorical predictions are essential for water managers and decision-makers to assess water availability over the coming months. Our ensemble forecasts are published on the 7th of each month (i.e. approx. 2 days after publication of the ECMWF forecasts) via the data portal of the KIT Campus Alpin. Selected forecast variables are also displayed via an online system that was developed in cooperation with the geo-information company GAF AG.

Water resource: Drinking water, Rainwater, Surface water
Type of product:
  • Management concepts & assessments
TRL: 6
    TRL (Technology Readiness Level)
  • TRL 1 - Basic principles observed
  • TRL 2 - Technology concept formulated
  • TRL 3 - Experimental proof of concept
  • TRL 4 - Technology validated in lab
  • TRL 5 - Technology validated in relevant environment (industrially relevant environment in the case of key enabling technologies)
  • TRL 6 - Technology demonstrated in relevant environment (industrially relevant environment in the case of key enabling technologies)
  • TRL 7 - System prototype demonstration in operational environment
  • TRL 8 - System complete and qualified
  • TRL 9 - Actual system proven in operational environment (competitive manufacturing in the case of key enabling technologies; or in space)
Application sector: Agriculture, Water resource management
Funding measure: GRoW
Project: SaWaM

Contact and partners

Logo Karlsruher Institut für Technologie, Institut für Meteorologie und Klimaforschung
  • Karlsruher Institut für Technologie, Institut für Meteorologie und Klimaforschung,
  • Kreuzeckbahnstr. 19,
  • 82467 Garmisch-Partenkirchen
Dr. Christof Lorenz
  • +49 (0) 8821 183 214


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