Adjusting Satellite Rainfall Error in Mountainous Areas for Flood Modeling Applications

Monday, 15 December 2014
Xinxuan Zhang1, Emmanouil N Anagnostou1, Marina Astitha1, Humberto J Vergara2, Jonathan J Gourley3 and Yang Hong2, (1)University of Connecticut, Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, Storrs, CT, United States, (2)The University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK, United States, (3)National Severe Storms Lab, Oklahoma City, OK, United States
This study aims to investigate the use of high-resolution Numerical Weather Prediction (NWP) for evaluating biases of satellite rainfall estimates of flood-inducing storms in mountainous areas and associated improvements in flood modeling. Satellite-retrieved precipitation has been considered as a feasible data source for global-scale flood modeling, given that satellite has the spatial coverage advantage over in situ (rain gauges and radar) observations particularly over mountainous areas. However, orographically induced heavy precipitation events tend to be underestimated and spatially smoothed by satellite products, which error propagates non-linearly in flood simulations.
We apply a recently developed retrieval error and resolution effect correction method (Zhang et al. 2013*) on the NOAA Climate Prediction Center morphing technique (CMORPH) product based on NWP analysis (or forecasting in the case of real-time satellite products). The NWP rainfall is derived from the Weather Research and Forecasting Model (WRF) set up with high spatial resolution (1-2 km) and explicit treatment of precipitation microphysics.
In this study we will show results on NWP-adjusted CMORPH rain rates based on tropical cyclones and a convective precipitation event measured during NASA’s IPHEX experiment in the South Appalachian region. We will use hydrologic simulations over different basins in the region to evaluate propagation of bias correction in flood simulations. We show that the adjustment reduced the underestimation of high rain rates thus moderating the strong rainfall magnitude dependence of CMORPH rainfall bias, which results in significant improvement in flood peak simulations. Further study over Blue Nile Basin (western Ethiopia) will be investigated and included in the presentation.

*Zhang, X. et al. 2013: Using NWP Simulations in Satellite Rainfall Estimation of Heavy Precipitation Events over Mountainous Areas. J. Hydrometeor, 14, 1844–1858.