Outcomes from an Ensemble Forecasting Workshop in Brazil
Contributed by Walter Collischonn and Fernando Fan
The first local Brazilian Ensemble Forecasting Workshop was held on 21 and 22 May at the Hydraulic Research Institute (IPH – Instituto de Pesquisas Hidráulicas), Brazil. IPH is part of the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS – Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul), located in Porto Alegre, Brazil.
The Workshop was organized by the Large Scale Hydrology Research Group of IPH. More than 80 participants from different parts of Brazil attended the workshop, including undergraduate and graduate students, professors, consultants, and employees from hydroelectric companies, research institutes, and forecasting services.
The workshop was organized around two final presentations of Master Thesis and PhD Dissertation, from IPH students (Vinicius Alencar Siqueira and Fernando Mainardi Fan). Both thesis were related to the use of ensemble forecasts in the Brazilian scenario.
Besides the final thesis presentations (during mornings), the workshop accounted with four more guest speeches (during afternoons):
- Ensemble weather forecasts using regional meteorological models were discussed by Dr. Sin Chan Chou, from the Brazilian Center for Weather Forecasting and Climatic Studies (CPTEC – Centro de Previsão de Tempo e Estudos Climáticos) of the Brazilian National Spatial Agency (INPE – Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais). She described CPTEC-INPE operational products and models, especially the Eta regional model, which is being used operationally for ensemble numerical weather predictions over South America (40×40 km resolution) and, with higher resolution (5 x 5 km), over South-east Brazil. These products can be followed here.
- Dr. Dirceu Reis from Brasilia University (UnB – Universidade de Brasília) described the efforts in developing operational forecasting systems at the Ceará State Meteorological and Hydrological Service (Funceme – Fundação Cearense de Meteorologia e Hidrologia). Dr. Reis presented the Funceme ensemble seasonal hydrological forecasting system that is used to reduce damages from droughts or excessive water incomes to reservoirs in the North-east state of Ceará, which is characterized by a semi-arid climate.
- Dr. Guilherme Marques, from IPH-UFRGS, talked about recent research outcomes of multiple reservoirs systems optimization using ensemble forecasts. The main focus was to discuss how Brazil can benefit from optimized reservoirs operation, since the energy generation of the country is almost 80% based on hydropower.
- Dr. Luis Gustavo Gonçalves, from CPTEC/INPE, talked about the use of remote sensing information to improve results from meteorological and hydrological models. Especial attention was given to soil moisture products, which may be used in data assimilation schemes and to improve models performance.
The main outcome of the workshop was a fruitful discussion about the next steps for the operational use of ensemble forecasts in the Brazilian context. The workshop provided a unique opportunity for sharing research expertise and networking.
For some local energy generation companies, ensemble forecasting systems are already a reality. This is the case of CEMIG (Minas Gerais state), where operational techniques based on works of Fan et al. (2014), Fan et al. (2015) and Schwanenberg et al. (2015) are being used.
For some other centres, this kind of operational system is still not a common practice, and for some participants, the workshop was the first opportunity to learn about the topic.
The interest shown by the audience suggests that the technical community in Brazil is opened to increase the use of ensemble forecasting techniques in operational practice during the next years.
However, there is still a long road to be covered, and more research based on specific conditions and challenges of Brazilian basins should be conducted to help pave it. For now, we can say that initiatives such as this workshop clearly seem like important steps to propagate ensemble forecasting knowledge.