Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science

DROUGHT-CH: WP5 - Operational hydrological modelling and snow water equivalent estimations


(31.01.2014): Congratulations to Benoit Guillod, who successfully defended his PhD thesis!

ETH (30.01.2014): Prof. Sonia Seneviratne is awarded an ERC Consolidator Grant

GEWEX News (11/2013): GEWEX welcomes the new Co-Chairs of the GEWEX Scientific Steering Group (SSG)

(05.08.2013): Prof. Sonia Seneviratne receives the James B. Macelwane Medal of the American Geophysical Union (AGU web site; EOS announcement)

(07.05.2013): Congratulations to Rene Orth, who successfully defended his PhD thesis!

ETH annual report (12/2012): Our research cited in the 2012 ETH annual report

ETH Life (07.12.2012): Neue Professoren an der ETH Zürich

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(23.11.2012): Congratulations to Ruth Lorenz, who successfully defended her PhD thesis!

WCRP 4th reanalysis meeting (09.05.2012): Brigitte Mueller makes presentation as EGU young ambassador [EGU ambassadors]

(27.01.2012): Congratulations to Brigitte Mueller, who successfully defended her PhD thesis!

IPCC SREX Summary for Policymakers (18.11.2011): Release of IPCC SREX Summary for Policymakers; Core writing team; Video

(02.11.2011): Congratulations to Heidi Mittelbach, who successfully defended her PhD thesis!

(12.10.2011): Congratulations to Paulo Oliveira who successfully defended his PhD thesis!

(18.09.2009): Congratulations to Eric Jäger, who successfully defended his PhD thesis!

Media & Reports

The Economist (08.03.2014): Global warming: Who pressed the pause button?

SRF2 Wissenschaftsmagazin (01.03.2014): Pause beim Klima (podcast 1.3.2014) [German]

Reuters (26.02.2014): Heat extremes increase despite global warming hiatus

Climate Central (26.02.2014): Climate change is increasing extreme heat globally

ETH (30.01.2014): Vier ETH-Forschende ausgezeichnet

RTS Telejournal 19h30 (03.10.2013): Changement climatique en Suisse [French]

RTS Mise au point (22.09.2013): Interview (Fonte des glaciers, GIEC) [French]

The Telegraph (14.11.2012): Droughts steady since 1950s

Nature Geoscience, Research highlights (31.08.2012): Dry heat

NZZ (29.08.2012): Die Crux mit den Extremen

NZZ Online (10.08.2012): Permanente Dürre in den USA?

ETH Life (17.07.2012): Bodenfeuchte und Hitzetage global untersucht; Soil moisture and hot days examined globally

Schweizer Bauer (17.07.2012): Forschung: Längere Trockenheit sagt Hitzewellen voraus

Tages Anzeiger (16.07.2012): ETH-Forscherinnen können Hitzewellen voraussagen

Los Angeles Times (16.07.2012): Dry spells may predict heat waves

ScienceDaily (27.05.2012): More Summer Heatwaves Likely in Europe: Predictability of European Summer Heat from Spring and Winter Rainfall

ETH Klimablog (10.05.2012): IPCC Sonderbericht zu Änderungen in Klimaextremen (IPCC SREX in Kürze)

ETH Life (29.03.2012): IPCC-Sonderbericht zu Klimaextremen; IPCC Special Report on Extreme Events and Disasters

ETH Klimablog (29.03.2012): Rigorose Qualitätskontrollen beim neusten IPCC-Sonderbericht

SciNevNet (28.03.2012): IPCC predicts rise in extreme climate events

Aqua & Gas (03/2012): On ne peut pas définir la sécheresse indépendamment du milieu impacté

Environmental Health Perspectives (01.02.2012): Managing the Risks of Extreme Weather: IPCC Special Report

ETH Globe (12/2011): Ab drei Grad wird's kritisch - Trockenheit und Landwirtschaft

Le Temps (26.11.2011): Vivre au sec, mode d'emploi

ETH Connect (09/2011): Ein Frühwarnsystem für magere Jahre

NFP61 DROUGHT-CH (08.06.2011): Video on DROUGHT-CH project [French; English sub-titles; German sub-titles]

Le Temps (16.05.2011): Mieux prédire les grandes canicules

SF Einstein (05.05.2011): Ein Frühling wie Sommer

SNF Journal Horizonte/Horizons (03/2011): Wenn die Atmosphäre zum Backofen wird ; Mieux prédire les canicules

NZZ (15.12.2010): Dürren bereiten den Boden für Hitzewellen

ETH Life (13.12.2010): Der Boden ist schuld; Soil responsible for heat waves

Nature Geoscience, News and Views (12.12.2010): Extreme heat rooted in dry soils

ETH Globe (11/2010): Vom Klimamodell zum Klimaservice

ETH Life (06.09.2010): Das Wald-Paradoxon bei Hitzewellen; The forest paradox during heatwaves

ETH Life (22.07.2010): Einfluss der Temperatur auf den «CO2-Atem»

Le Temps (22.07.2010): La Suisse doit adopter un système d'alertes sécheresse

3Sat (nano) (15.09.2009): Der Boden schützt uns bald nicht mehr vor Hitze. Die Schweiz durchzieht ihr Land mit Messstationen

ETH Life (22.08.2008): Der Bodenfeuchte auf den Grund gehen

SNF Journal Horizonte/Horizons (12/2008): Ein Klimaschlüssel liegt im Boden; Une clé du climat se cache dans le sol


In WP5 we aim at testing operational tools for the estimation of low flow and snow water equivalent in Switzerland. Real-time and near-real-time hydrological  simulations with the model PREVAH forced by observed (MeteoSwiss) and predicted (COSMOLEPS, ECMWF EPS; see Zappa et al. 2008; Jaun et al. 2008, Thirel et al. 2008) meteorological variables will be used to estimate critical deviation of the available water resources from the climatological average with a focus on low flow. The application will be performed for all large river basins of Switzerland as well as at the scale of smaller catchments (down to 1000 km2). The operational derivation of snow water equivalent estimates and their possible integration in the hydrological modelling framework will also be addressed as part of this work package. We aim at identifying if such medium-range forecasts can be provided to the end users through the information platform developed within WP7.


This work package will be subdivided in two main subprojects:
1) Operational water resources nowcasting and probabilistic forecasting for up-to 10 days: First test catchments will include the river Thur gauged at Andelfingen (1696 km2) and the river Aare gauged at Hagneck (5128 km2) and others to be co-ordinated with the other WPs and related NRP 61 projects and other projects. The final setup will include entire Switzerland (including the contributing area from neighbouring countries). WP5 includes following tasks: (1) Implementation the distributed hydrological model PREVAH (Viviroli et al., 2009) for medium-range and extended-range forecasts with daily time resolution and a spatial resolution of 500x500 m2 (Zappa and Pfaundler, 2009). (2) Evaluation of the benefits of assimilating snow water equivalent information maps (Andreadis and Lettenmeier 2005, see WP5, part 2) (3) Exploration of the possibilities of assimilating discharge (e.g. Thirel et al. 2009) from operational networks and assessment of the benefits of this approach (4) Computation of indices for communicating spatial and temporal variability of water resources with focus on droughts and low-flows as compared to the control period 1961-2010 (Link to WP7). In addition, the possible prediction of water scarcity and soil moisture depletion with the employed hydrological model will be evaluated and compared to that of the land surface model applied in WP4. However, we expect that the correct representation of these processes will require significant model improvements given known limitations of hydrological models in this respect.
2) Operational snow water equivalent maps: The WSL/SLF has operational access to about 250 snow measuring stations in Switzerland from several monitoring networks. A smaller part of these stations also provide bi-weekly manual readings of SWE. These data are highly valuable for hydrological models in order to achieve accurate runoff predictions in the snowmelt season, when unassimilated model runs typically suffer from errors in the snow water budget cumulated over the entire previous snow accumulation season. As part of this work package, new approaches for data assimilation in the employed hydrological model will be tested and evaluated. These will include the use of fully distributed SWE maps in hydrological modelling, which will be derived from station data prior to assimilation (Foppa et al., 2007; Jonas et al, submitted).


Synergies with on-going projects


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