Real-time data assimilation for operational ensemble streamflow forecasting

Jasper A. Vrugt, Hoshin V. Gupta, Breanndán Ó Nualláin, Willem Bouten

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

145 Scopus citations


Operational flood forecasting requires that accurate estimates of the uncertainty associated with model-generated streamflow forecasts be provided along with the probable flow levels. This paper demonstrates a stochastic ensemble implementation of the Sacramento model used routinely by the National Weather Service for deterministic streamflow forecasting. The approach, the simultaneous optimization and data assimilation method (SODA), uses an ensemble Kalman filter (EnKF) for recursive state estimation allowing for treatment of streamflow data error, model structural error, and parameter uncertainty, while enabling implementation of the Sacramento model without major modification to its current structural form. Model parameters are estimated in batch using the shuffled complex evolution metropolis stochastic-ensemble optimization approach (SCEM-UA). The SODA approach was implemented using parallel computing to handle the increased computational requirements. Studies using data from the Leaf River, Mississippi, indicate that forecast performance improvements on the order of 30% to 50% can be realized even with a suboptimal implementation of the filter. Further, the SODA parameter estimates appear to be less biased, which may increase the prospects for finding useful regionalization relationships.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)548-565
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Hydrometeorology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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