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Improving the North American multi-model ensemble (NMME) precipitation forecasts at local areas using wavelet and machine learning

Xu, Lei, Chen, Nengcheng, Zhang, Xiang, Chen, Zeqiang, Hu, Chuli, Wang, Chao
Climate dynamics 2019 v.53 no.1-2 pp. 601-615
climate, models, seasonal variation, summer, support vector machines, uncertainty, water management, wavelet, China
Seasonal precipitation forecasts at regional or local areas can help guide agricultural practice and urban water resource management. The North American multi-model ensemble (NMME) is a seasonal forecasting system providing precipitation forecasts globally. Bias correction and downscaling of the NMME is a critical step before applied at local scales. Here, the machine learning methods coupling with wavelet are used to correct the precipitation forecasts in NMME for 518 meteorological stations in China for eight models at 0.5–8.5 months leads. Compared with the traditional quantile mapping (QM) approach, the wavelet support vector machine (WSVM) and wavelet random forest (WRF) methods exhibit obvious advantage in downscaling, with an overall average improvement of Pearson’s correlation coefficient increasing by 0.05–0.3 and root mean square error (RMSE) reducing by 18–40 mm (21–33%) for individual models. Both the spatial and seasonal patterns of downscaled results demonstrate the superiority of wavelet machine learning methods over QM. A spatial analysis indicates that the corrected NMME precipitation forecasts show the best skill in South China, with an average RMSE of about 30 mm, while the worst skill in Central and Southwest China with a RMSE of 80 mm. In spite of the correction, the uncertainties of seasonal precipitation forecasts in summer and extreme wet cases are still large. However, the WSVM and WRF methods may serve as an effective tool in the bias correction of NMME precipitation forecasts.