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Prediction of the Caspian Sea level using ECMWF seasonal forecasts and reanalysis

Arpe, K., Leroy, S. A. G., Wetterhall, F., Khan, V., Hagemann, S., Lahijani, H.
Theoretical and applied climatology 2014 v.117 no.1-2 pp. 41-60
evaporation, prediction, rivers, sea level, surface temperature, time series analysis, water balance, watersheds, weather, Caspian Sea
The hydrological budget of the Caspian Sea (CS) is investigated using the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts interim reanalysis (ERAi) and seasonal forecast (FCST) data with the aim of predicting the Caspian Sea Level (CSL) some months ahead. Precipitation and evaporation are used. After precipitation events over the Volga River, the discharge (Volga River discharge (VRD)) follows with delays, which are parameterized. The components of the water budget from ERAi and FCSTs are integrated to obtain time series of the CSL. Observations of the CSL and the VRD are used for comparison and tuning. The quality of ERAi data is sufficiently good to calculate the time variability of the CSL with a satisfactory accuracy. Already the storage of water within the Volga Basin allows forecasts of the CSL a few months ahead, and using the FCSTs of precipitation improves the CSL forecasts. The evaporation in the seasonal forecasts is deficient due to unrealistic sea surface temperatures over the CS. Impacts of different water budget terms on the CSL variability are shown by a variety of validation tools. The importance of precipitation anomalies over the catchment of the Volga River is confirmed, but also impacts from the two southern rivers (Sefidrud and Kura River) and the evaporation over the CS become obvious for some periods. When pushing the FCSTs beyond the limits of the seasonal FCSTs to 1 year, considerable forecast skill can still be found. Validating only FCSTs by the present approach, which show the same trend as one based on a statistical method, significantly enhances the skill scores.