8th Hepex webinar: Running operational HEPS as small research group: is it more difficult to start with it or to give it up?

Speaker: Dr Massimiliano Zappa, Mountain Hydrology and Mass Movements, Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research WSL, Dübendorf (CH)

Date and time: Friday, September 27, 2013 3:00 pm GMT Summer Time (London, UTC+01:00)

Watch the seminar again on YouTube

Abstract: Back in September 2005 Switzerland was coming of its most severe large scale-flood in almost one century. At that time in Switzerland operational hydrology was limited to the real-time deterministic forecast system of the Swiss Federal Office for Environment. The System was based on the HBV model, was focused on the large rivers downstream from the major lakes and was run manually. It was just some months before, where we decided to take profit of the real-time meteorological database used for avalanche warning, to establish a first operationally running real-time system for mesoscale Swiss basins in the upstream area of the major lakes. This real-time system called IFKIS-Hydro, started operations in September 2005 and was first focused on the Canton of Glarus. This area, together with the Verzasca area, should become our favorite test bed to implement new operational forecasting systems, with increasing degree of complexity. The MAP-D-PHASE initiative, the COST731 Action and the EU-Project IMPRINTS gave a boost to our commitment to use of real-time probabisilitc approaches at the interface between science and end-users.
In this seminar I will present will present some operational systems we developed. Among them:
• The real-time hydrological ensemble prediction systems (HEPS) for the city of Zürich, operational since 2008
• The operational use of rainfall radar uncertainty for flash-flood forecasting in the Verzasca river, operational since 2007
• The new platform “www.drought.ch” for early identification of drought in Switzerland, operational since June 2013
• The early warning tool for flash-floods based on IDF-Curves operational for Southern Switzerland since July 2013.

Teasers of each product are also published at http://hydro.slf.ch/sihl/chysghl/. This is also the link I will use to guide this webinar.
We have now since almost 9 year a 365 days-per-year commitment to our experiment. At some point we operationally run HEPS for over 30 basins, and this with only 1.5 persons allocated to this task. After a major crash due to data overflow in July 2011 we sadly had to decide if we shall continue or not. We finally reduced the number of experiments to about 20 basins, which still give us every week up to 2 GB of compressed data to archive for evaluation an science. Since the last crash we invested money in additional backup-solutions and computing power. Now the number of experiments is increasing again. Fortunately, some of the data collected allowed us to make novel contributions to science. Was it all worth it? Oh YES!
Will we give up? No way!

About the speaker: Dr Massimiliano Zappa (born in 1975) is hydrologist. He works on operational flood forecast systems and process related catchment hydrology. His research interests focus on spatially distributed modelling of hydrological processes at different spatial and temporal scales. He completed in 2002 a Phd at the Institute of Atmospheric and Climate Sciences (ETH Zurich). In 2003 he joined the Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL (head of the Hydrological Forecasts group since 2006) where he focussed on applied research for operational flood warning systems including warning systems for the Three Gorges Dam Reservoir (PR China), the Swiss Canton of Glarus and the city of Zürich. He has been included as a national delegate in the Management Committee of COST-731 (‘Propagation of Uncertainty in Advanced Meteo-Hydrological Forecast Systems’) and is also National delegate in the Northern European FRIEND (Flow Regimes from International Experimental and Network Data) Low-Flow working group.


  1. Just a reminder about tomorrow’s seminar, do not forget to sign up!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.