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Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 13, issue 6 | Copyright
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 13, 819-831, 2009
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-13-819-2009
© Author(s) 2009. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

  18 Jun 2009

18 Jun 2009

How crucial is it to account for the antecedent moisture conditions in flood forecasting? Comparison of event-based and continuous approaches on 178 catchments

L. Berthet1,2, V. Andréassian1, C. Perrin1, and P. Javelle3 L. Berthet et al.
  • 1Cemagref, Hydrosystems and Bioprocesses Research Unit Antony, France
  • 2AgroParisTech ENGREF, 19 avenue du Maine, 75732 Paris, France
  • 3Cemagref, Hydrology and Hydraulic Works Research Unit, Aix-en-Provence, France

Abstract. This paper compares event-based and continuous hydrological modelling approaches for real-time forecasting of river flows. Both approaches are compared using a lumped hydrologic model (whose structure includes a soil moisture accounting (SMA) store and a routing store) on a data set of 178 French catchments. The main focus of this study was to investigate the actual impact of soil moisture initial conditions on the performance of flood forecasting models and the possible compensations with updating techniques. The rainfall-runoff model assimilation technique we used does not impact the SMA component of the model but only its routing part. Tests were made by running the SMA store continuously or on event basis, everything else being equal. The results show that the continuous approach remains the reference to ensure good forecasting performances. We show, however, that the possibility to assimilate the last observed flow considerably reduces the differences in performance. Last, we present a robust alternative to initialize the SMA store where continuous approaches are impossible because of data availability problems.

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