Prediction of British summer river flows using winter predictors

  • Svensson C
  • Prudhomme C
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Abstract

Seasonal predictions of river flow provide managers with the opportunity to plan the use of water resources in advance. Summer (June-August) river flows for the period 1961-2002 in 20 catchments in Great Britain were grouped into two clusters, largely representing the southeast and the northwest of Britain. The cluster average summer river flows were predicted by linear regression using the previous winter's (December-February) river flow, North Atlantic sea surface temperatures (SSTs), North American land air temperature and global airflow indices as potential predictors. Separate regression equations were derived for the northwest and southeast regions. Both equations contain eight predictors. Predictors for the southeast are shifted somewhat southward compared to the predictors for the northwest. The most influential predictors are the temperature difference between the North Atlantic Current and the Norwegian Sea for the northwest and the SST in the central part of the subtropical gyre in the North Atlantic (Central Gyre) for the southeast. The regression equations fitted to all data explain 55% and 61% of the variance for the northwest and southeast regions, respectively. The corresponding cross-validation correlations between the predicted and observed series are 0.54 and 0.62. The models are fairly skilful at avoiding the false positive or negative prediction of extremes, but less skilled at predicting medium sized river flows.

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Authors

  • Cecilia Svensson

  • Christel Prudhomme

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