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Seasonal prediction of lake inflows and rainfall in a hydro-electricity catchment, Waitaki river, New Zealand

The Waitaki River is located in the centre of the South Island of New Zealand, and hydro-electricity generated on the river accounts for 35-40% of New Zealand's electricity. Low inflows in 1992 and 2001 resulted in the threat of power blackouts. Improved seasonal rainfall and inflow forecasts will result in the better management of the water used in hydro-generation on a seasonal basis. Researchers have stated that two key directions in the fields of seasonal rainfall and streamflow forecasting are to a) decrease the spatial scale of forecast products, and b) tailor forecast products to end-user needs, so as to provide more relevant and targeted forecasts. Several season-ahead lake inflow and rainfall forecast models were calibrated for the Waitaki river catchment using statistical techniques to quantify relationships between land-ocean-atmosphere state variables and seasonally lagged inflows and rainfall. Techniques included principal components analysis and multiple linear regression, with cross-validation techniques applied to estimate model error and randomization techniques used to establish the significance of the skill of the models. Many of the models calibrated predict rainfall and inflows better than random chance and better than the long-term mean as a predictor. When compared to the range of all probable inflow seasonal totals (based on the 80-year recorded history in the catchment), 95% confidence limits around most model predictions offer significant skill. These models explain up to 19% of the variance in season-ahead rainfall and inflows in this catchment. Seasonal rainfall and inflow forecasting on a single catchment scale and focussed to end-user needs is possible with some skill in the South Island of New Zealand.
Journal Article
Type of thesis
Purdie, J.M. & Bardsley, W.E. (2010). Seasonal prediction of lake inflows and rainfall in a hydro-electricity catchment, Waitaki river, New Zealand. International Journal of Climatology, 30(3), 372-389.
John Wiley & Sons
This is is a preprint version of an artilce published in the International Journal of Climatology. Copyright 2009 Royal Meteorological Society.