Product-error-driven generator of probable rainfall conditioned on WSR-88D precipitation estimates

Gabriele Villarini, Witold F. Krajewski, Grzegorz J. Ciach, Dale L. Zimmerman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

74 Scopus citations


The existence of large errors in precipitation products delivered by the network of Weather Surveillance Radar, 1988 Doppler (WSR-88D) radars is broadly recognized. However, their quantitative characteristics remain poorly understood. Recently, the authors developed a functional-statistical model that quantifies the relation between radar rainfall and the corresponding true rainfall in a way that is applicable to the probabilistic quantitative precipitation estimation planned for future use by the U.S. National Weather Service. The model consists of a deterministic distortion function and a random uncertainty factor, both conditioned on given radar rainfall values. It also accounts for the spatiotemporal correlations in the random uncertainty factor. The model components were estimated on the basis of a 6-year-long data sample that considers the effects of seasons, range from radar, and time scales. In this study, the authors present two different applications of the aforementioned uncertainty model: (1) the estimation of rainfall probability maps and (2) the generation of radar rainfall ensembles. In the former, maps of the rainfall exceedance probability for any threshold are produced, given a radar rainfall map. We also present the analytical derivation of the exceedance probability maps at coarser spatial scales. In the latter, the users can generate ensembles of probable true rainfall fields that are consistent with the observed radar rainfall and its error structure. Simulation of the random component is based on the Cholesky decomposition method. Finally, the authors discuss possible uses of these applications in hydrology and hydroclimatology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberW01404
JournalWater Resources Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2009
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Water Science and Technology


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