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Ensemble-based data assimilation for operational flood forecasting – On the merits of state estimation for 1D hydrodynamic forecasting through the example of the “Adour Maritime” river

Barthélémy, S., Ricci, S., Rochoux, M.C., Le Pape, E., Thual, O.
Journal of hydrology 2017 v.552 pp. 210-224
algorithms, covariance, geometry, hydrodynamics, hydrology, models, rivers, temporal variation, France
This study presents the implementation and the merits of an Ensemble Kalman Filter (EnKF) algorithm with an inflation procedure on the 1D shallow water model MASCARET in the framework of operational flood forecasting on the “Adour Maritime” river (South West France). In situ water level observations are sequentially assimilated to correct both water level and discharge. The stochastic estimation of the background error statistics is achieved over an ensemble of MASCARET integrations with perturbed hydrological boundary conditions. It is shown that the geometric characteristics of the network as well as the hydrological forcings and their temporal variability have a significant impact on the shape of the univariate (water level) and multivariate (water level and discharge) background error covariance functions and thus on the EnKF analysis. The performance of the EnKF algorithm is examined for observing system simulation experiments as well as for a set of eight real flood events (2009–2014). The quality of the ensemble is deemed satisfactory as long as the forecast lead time remains under the transfer time of the network, when perfect hydrological forcings are considered. Results demonstrate that the simulated hydraulic state variables can be improved over the entire network, even where no data are available, with a limited ensemble size and thus a computational cost compatible with operational constraints. The improvement in the water level Root-Mean-Square Error obtained with the EnKF reaches up to 88% at the analysis time and 40% at a 4-h forecast lead time compared to the standalone model.