Downscaling Regional Hydrological Forecast for Operational Use in Local Early Warning: HYPE Models in the Sirba River

Giovanni Massazza,Vieri Tarchiani, Jafet C. M. Andersson, Abdou Ali, Mohamed Housseini Ibrahim, Alessandro Pezzoli, Tiziana De Filippis, Leandro Rocchi, Bernard Minoungou, David Gustafsson, Maurizio Rosso
Published in: Water 2020, 12, 3504
Date: December 13, 2020

In the last decades since the dramatic increase in flood frequency and magnitude, floods have become a crucial problem in West Africa. National and international authorities concentrate efforts on developing early warning systems (EWS) to deliver flood alerts and prevent loss of lives and damages. Usually, regional EWS is based on hydrological modeling, while local EWS adopt field observations. This study aims to integrate outputs from two regional hydrological models—Niger HYPE (NH) and World-Wide HYPE (WWH)—in a local EWS developed for the Sirba River. Sirba is the major tributary of Middle Niger River Basin and is supported by a local EWS since June 2019. Model evaluation indices were computed with 5-day forecasts demonstrating a better performance of NH (Nash–Sutcliffe efficiency NSE = 0.58) than WWH (NSE = 0.10) and the need of output optimization. The optimization conducted with a linear regression post-processing technique improves performance significantly to “very good” for NH (Heidke skill score HSS = 0.53) and “good” for WWH (HSS = 0.28). HYPE outputs allow extending local EWS warning lead-time up to 10 days. Since the transfer informatic environment is not yet a mature operational system 10–20% of forecasts were unfortunately not produced in 2019, impacting operational availability.