A Monte Carlo simulation and sensitivity analysis framework
- demonstrating the advantages of probabilistic forecasting over deterministic forecasting in terms of flood warning reliability
06 March 2023
Authors: Luis-Felipe Duque, Enda O'Connell, and Greg O'Donnell
Abstract: Despite the significant progress in probabilistic forecasting science in the last two decades, particularly in the quantification of predictive uncertainty (PU), most operational flood early warning systems (FEWSs) continue to be based on deterministic forecasts. Thereupon, additional work is needed to demonstrate the advantages of using PU over deterministic forecasting to enhance the uptake of probabilistic forecasts in flood warning decision-making. In this paper, a Monte-Carlo (MC)-based sensitivity analysis is done to explore how the outcomes of flood peak water level-based deterministic and -probabilistic warning strategies behave when factors controlling the forecast quality are perturbed. The flood warning reliability is evaluated through the probability of detection (POD) and false alarm ratio (FAR) based on two criteria: a flooding threshold-based criterion (FTC), and a new floodplain property-based criterion (FPC) based on inundation level forecasting. The results of this work show that the advantage of a probabilistic strategy over a deterministic one is greater when PU is relatively high. The probabilistic strategy is robust to biases in the mean and variance of forecasts by maintaining POD and FAR stability, while this is not the case for a deterministic warning strategy. Likewise, it was concluded that if inundation level forecasting is undertaken (FPC), improved forecasts would be needed to achieve the same reliability level as for FTC, reflecting the more demanding FPC criterion. Also, the levels of correlation needed to achieve acceptable operational values of POD and FAR are shown. These results provide new insight into the advantages of a probabilistic forecasting strategy under several forecast quality scenarios and guidance for the design of operational FEWSs.