Combining Spatial Statistical and Ensemble Information in Probabilistic Weather Forecasts

Tech Report Number



Forecast ensembles typically show a spread-skill relationship, but they are also often underdispersive, and therefore uncalibrated. Bayesian model averaging (BMA) is a statistical postprocessing method for forecast ensembles that generates calibrated probabilistic forecast products for weather quantities at individual sites. This paper introduces the Spatial BMA technique, which combines BMA and the geostatistical output perturbation (GOP) method, and extends BMA to generate calibrated probabilistic forecasts of whole weather fields simultaneously, rather than just weather events at individual locations. At any site individually, Spatial BMA reduces to the original BMA technique. The Spatial BMA method provides statistical ensembles of weather field forecasts that take the spatial structure of observed fields into account and honor the flow-dependent information contained in the dynamical ensemble. The members of the Spatial BMA ensemble are obtained by dressing the weather field forecasts from the dynamical ensemble with simulated spatially correlated error fields, in proportions that correspond to the BMA weights for the member models in the dynamical ensemble. Statistical ensembles of any size can be generated at minimal computational costs. The Spatial BMA technique was applied to 48-h forecasts of surface temperature over the North American Pacific Northwest in 2004, using the University of Washington mesoscale ensemble. The Spatial BMA ensemble generally outperformed the BMA and GOP ensembles and showed much better verification results than the raw ensemble, both at individual sites, for weather field forecasts, and for forecasts of composite quantities, such as average temperature in National Weather Service forecast zones and minimum temperature along the Interstate 90 Mountains to Sound Greenway


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