Radar-based quantitative precipitation estimation over Mediterranean and dry climate regimes

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Abstract

[1] Quantitative precipitation estimation based on meteorological radar data potentially provides continuous, high-resolution, large-coverage data that are essential for meteorological and hydrologic analyses. While intense scientific efforts have focused on precipitation estimation in temperate climatic regimes, relatively few studies examined radar-based estimates in dry climatic regions. The paper examines radar-based rain depth estimation for rainfall periods (a series of successive rainy days) in Israel, where the climate ranges between Mediterranean to dry. Three radar-gauge adjustment methods are compared: a one-coefficient bulk adjustment, which simply removes the mean bias; a two-coefficient range adjustment based on a weighted regression (WR); and a four-coefficient adjustment based on a weighted multiple regression (WMR), which assumes a locally varied, nonisotropic correction factor. The WMR technique has been previously applied in the Alps of Europe. Adjustment coefficients have been derived for 28 rainfall periods using 59 independent gauges of a quality-checked training data set. The validation was based on an independent data set composed of gauges located in eleven 20 × 20 km2 validation areas, which are representative of different climate, topography and radar distance conditions. The WR and WMR methods were found preferable with a slight better performance of the latter. Furthermore, a novel approach has been adopted in this study, whereby radar estimates are considered useable if they provide information that is better than gauge-only estimates. The latter was derived by spatial interpolation of the gauges belonging to the training data set. Note that these gauges are outside the validation areas. As for the radar-adjusted estimates, gauge-derived estimates were assessed against gauge data in the validation areas. It was found that radar-based estimates are better for the validation areas at the dry climate regime. At distances larger than 100 km, the radar underestimation becomes too large in the two northern validation areas, while in the southern one radar data are still better than gauge interpolation. It is concluded that in ungauged areas of Israel it is preferable to use WMR-adjusted (or alternatively, simply WR-adjusted) radar echoes rather than the standard bulk adjustment method and for dry ungauged areas it is preferable over the conventional gauge-interpolated values derived from point measurements, which are outside the areas themselves. The WR and WMR adjustment methods provide useful rain depth estimates for rainfall periods for the examined areas but within the limitation stated above.

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