The skill of seasonal ensemble low-flow forecasts in the Moselle River for three different hydrological models

M.C. Demirel*, M.J. Booij, A.Y. Hoekstra

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

57 Citations (Scopus)
159 Downloads (Pure)


This paper investigates the skill of 90-day low-flow forecasts using two conceptual hydrological models and one data-driven model based on Artificial Neural Networks (ANNs) for the Moselle River. The three models, i.e. HBV, GR4J and ANN-Ensemble (ANN-E), all use forecasted meteorological inputs (precipitation P and potential evapotranspiration PET), whereby we employ ensemble seasonal meteorological forecasts. We compared low-flow forecasts for five different cases of seasonal meteorological forcing: (1) ensemble P and PET forecasts; (2) ensemble P forecasts and observed climate mean PET; (3) observed climate mean P and ensemble PET forecasts; (4) observed climate mean P and PET and (5) zero P and ensemble PET forecasts as input for the models. The ensemble P and PET forecasts, each consisting of 40 members, reveal the forecast ranges due to the model inputs. The five cases are compared for a lead time of 90 days based on model output ranges, whereas the models are compared based on their skill of low-flow forecasts for varying lead times up to 90 days. Before forecasting, the hydrological models are calibrated and validated for a period of 30 and 20 years respectively. The smallest difference between calibration and validation performance is found for HBV, whereas the largest difference is found for ANN-E. From the results, it appears that all models are prone to over-predict runoff during low-flow periods using ensemble seasonal meteorological forcing. The largest range for 90-day low-flow forecasts is found for the GR4J model when using ensemble seasonal meteorological forecasts as input. GR4J, HBV and ANN-E under-predicted 90-day-ahead low flows in the very dry year 2003 without precipitation data. The results of the comparison of forecast skills with varying lead times show that GR4J is less skilful than ANN-E and HBV. Overall, the uncertainty from ensemble P forecasts has a larger effect on seasonal low-flow forecasts than the uncertainty from ensemble PET forecasts and initial model conditions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)275-291
Number of pages17
JournalHydrology and earth system sciences
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 16 Jan 2015


Dive into the research topics of 'The skill of seasonal ensemble low-flow forecasts in the Moselle River for three different hydrological models'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this