Product-error-driven uncertainty model for probabilistic quantitative precipitation estimation with NEXRAD data

Grzegorz J. Ciach, Witold F. Krajewski, Gabriele Villarini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

201 Scopus citations


Although it is broadly acknowledged that the radar-rainfall (RR) estimates based on the U.S. national network of Weather Surveillance Radar-1988 Doppler (WSR-88D) stations contain a high degree of un- certainty, no methods currently exist to inform users about its quantitative characteristics. The most comprehensive characterization of this uncertainty can be achieved by delivering the products in a probabilistic rather than the traditional deterministic form. The authors are developing a methodology for probabilistic quantitative precipitation estimation (POPE) based on weather radar data. In this study, they present the central element of this methodology: an empirically based error structure model for the RR products. The authors apply a product-error-driven (PED) approach to obtain a realistic uncertainty model. It is based on the analyses of six years of data from the Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, WSR-88D radar (KTLX) processed with the Precipitation Processing System algorithm of the NEXRAD system. The modeled functional-statistical relationship between RR estimates and corresponding true rainfall consists of two components: a systematic distortion function and a stochastic factor quantifying remaining random errors. The two components are identified using a nonparametric functional estimation apparatus. The true rainfall is approximated with rain gauge data from the Oklahoma Mesonet and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Service Micronet networks. The RR uncertainty model presented here accounts for different time scales, synoptic regimes, and distances from the radar. In addition, this study marks the first time in which results on RR error correlation in space and time are presented.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1325-1347
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Hydrometeorology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2007
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


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