The Use of Radar-Based Products for Deriving Extreme Rainfall Frequencies Using Regional Frequency Analysis with Application in South Louisiana

Friday, 19 December 2014
Hisham A El-Dardiry and Emad H Habib, University of Louisiana at Lafayette, Lafayette, LA, United States
Radar-based technologies have made spatially and temporally distributed quantitative precipitation estimates (QPE) available in an operational environmental compared to the raingauges. The floods identified through flash flood monitoring and prediction systems are subject to at least three sources of uncertainties: (a) those related to rainfall estimation errors, (b) those due to streamflow prediction errors due to model structural issues, and (c) those due to errors in defining a flood event. The current study focuses on the first source of uncertainty and its effect on deriving important climatological characteristics of extreme rainfall statistics. Examples of such characteristics are rainfall amounts with certain Average Recurrence Intervals (ARI) or Annual Exceedance Probability (AEP), which are highly valuable for hydrologic and civil engineering design purposes. Gauge-based precipitation frequencies estimates (PFE) have been maturely developed and widely used over the last several decades. More recently, there has been a growing interest by the research community to explore the use of radar-based rainfall products for developing PFE and understand the associated uncertainties. This study will use radar-based multi-sensor precipitation estimates (MPE) for 11 years to derive PFE’s corresponding to various return periods over a spatial domain that covers the state of Louisiana in southern USA. The PFE estimation approach used in this study is based on fitting generalized extreme value distribution to hydrologic extreme rainfall data based on annual maximum series (AMS). Some of the estimation problems that may arise from fitting GEV distributions at each radar pixel is the large variance and seriously biased quantile estimators. Hence, a regional frequency analysis approach (RFA) is applied. The RFA involves the use of data from different pixels surrounding each pixel within a defined homogenous region. In this study, region of influence approach along with the index flood technique are used in the RFA. A bootstrap technique procedure is carried out to account for the uncertainty in the distribution parameters to construct 90% confidence intervals (i.e., 5% and 95% confidence limits) on AMS-based precipitation frequency curves.