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Article Dans Une Revue Proceedings of the International Association of Hydrological Sciences (IAHS) Année : 2020

PREMHYCE: An operational tool for low-flow forecasting

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Didier Francois


In many countries, rivers are the primary supply of water. A number of uses are concerned (drinking water, irrigation, hydropower, etc.) and they can be strongly affected by water shortages. Therefore, there is a need for the early anticipation of low-flow periods to improve water management. This is strengthened by the perspective of having more severe summer low flows in the context of climate change. Several French institutions (Inrae, BRGM, Météo-France, EDF and Lorraine University) have been collaborating over the last years to develop an operational tool for low-flow forecasting, called PREMHYCE. It was tested in real time on 70 catchments in continental France in 2017, and on 48 additional catchments in 2018. PREMHYCE includes five hydrological models: one uncalibrated physically-based model and four storage-type models of various complexity, which are calibrated on gauged catchments. The models assimilate flow observations or implement post-processing techniques. Low-flow forecasts can be issued up to 90 d ahead, based on ensemble streamflow prediction (ESP) using historical climatic data as ensembles of future input scenarios. These climatic data (precipitation, potential evapotranspiration and temperature) are provided by Météo-France with the daily gridded SAFRAN reanalysis over the 1958–2017 period, which includes a wide range of conditions. The tool provides numerical and graphical outputs, including the forecasted ranges of low flows, and the probability to be under low-flow warning thresholds provided by the users. Outputs from the different hydrological models can be combined through a simple multi-model approach to improve the robustness of forecasts. Results are illustrated for the Ill River at Didenheim (northeastern France) where the 2017 low-flow period was particularly severe and for which PREMHYCE provided useful forecasts.
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Dates et versions

hal-03023204 , version 1 (25-11-2020)


Paternité - CC BY 4.0



Pierre Nicolle, François Besson, Olivier Delaigue, Pierre Etchevers, Didier Francois, et al.. PREMHYCE: An operational tool for low-flow forecasting. Proceedings of the International Association of Hydrological Sciences (IAHS), 2020, 383, pp.381-389. ⟨10.5194/piahs-383-381-2020⟩. ⟨hal-03023204⟩
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