Flood & drought forecasting

Flood and drought forecasting: the simplicity of the hydrological models developed by our research group make them particularly suitable for operational use in engineering studies and water resources management. They play a major role in the two research fields presented below.

Flood forecasting

Innondation de la Somme. Gare de Abbeville. (rapport SCHAPI, 6 juin 2001)

Somme flood event. Gare de Abbeville. (SCHAPI, June 6, 2001)

Research developed at Irstea in Antony has focused on the development of flood forecasting systems, based on continuous rainfall-runoff models.

The hourly GRP model was introduced in the SOPHIE2 platform, which is used by most of the national local flood forecasting centers (SPC) in France (work carried out as part of the “Multi-risk” Program DGPR – IRSTEA).

Research questions on flood forecasting are studied in detail in our current research topics.

Our research interests are:

  • to develop reliable methods for probabilistic streamflow forecast from ensemble weather predictions to better anticipate flood events and improve reservoir inflows management (Zalachori et al., 2012),
  • to improve the quality of streamflow forecasts by assimilating new data and developing new techniques for model updating in real-time (Berthet, 2010),
  • to study the communication of uncertainties in the hydrologic forecasting chain and the value of probabilistic forecasts (Ramos et al., 2010, 2012).

Our works are carried out in partnership with SCHAPI, Météo-France, EDF, Laval University, University of Twente, among others, and contribute to the international initiative HEPEX.

Drought forecasting

River bed of the Drac at Pont des Ricous. (Source

While flood forecasting deals with short lead times (few hours up to few days), forecasting of low flows is carried out for lead times ranging from several weeks to several months. It is a matter of anticipating potential limitations on water resources availability given the current soil moisture state of a catchment.

Due to the uncertainties on future precipitation, the forecast is performed following a probabilistic approach, based on the use of various rainfall scenarios (observed in the past or obtained with a stochastic rainfall generator). This method allows to estimate confidence intervals on probable future discharges for the target forecast period.

Our research focuses on:

  • contributing to a better management of water resources in multi-purposes reservoirs by developing tools to help in low flow management and climate change adaptation (PhD thesis L. Crochemore, 2016).

For more information: see our publications