Articles | Volume 10, issue 2
23 Feb 2010
 | 23 Feb 2010

Use of past precipitation data for regionalisation of hourly rainfall in the low mountain ranges of Saxony, Germany

T. Pluntke, N. Jatho, C. Kurbjuhn, J. Dietrich, and C. Bernhofer

Abstract. Within the context of flood forecasting we deal with the improvement of regionalisation methods for the generation of highly resolved (1 h, 1×1km2) precipitation fields, which can be used as input for rainfall-runoff models or for verification of weather forecasts. Although radar observations of precipitation are available in many regions, it might be necessary to apply regionalisation methods near real-time for the cases that radar is not available or observations are of low quality.

The aim of this paper is to investigate whether past precipitation information can be used to improve regionalisation of rainfall. Within a case study we determined typical precipitation Background-Fields (BGF) for the mountainous and hilly regions of Saxony using hourly and daily rain gauge data. Additionally, calibrated radar data served as past information for the BGF generation. For regionalisation of precipitation we used de-trended kriging and compared the results with another kriging based regionalisation method and with Inverse Distance Weighting (IDW). The performance of the methods was assessed by applying cross-validation, by inspection and by evaluation with rainfall-runoff simulations.

The regionalisation of rainfall yielded better results in case of advective events than in case of convective events. The performance of the applied regionalisation methods showed no significant disagreement for different precipitation types. Cross-validation results were rather similar in most cases. Subjectively judged, the BGF-method reproduced best the structures of rain cells. Precipitation input derived from radar or kriging resulted in a better matching between observed and simulated flood hydrographs. Simple techniques like IDW also deliver satisfying results in some occasions. Implementation of past radar data into the BGF-method rendered no improvement, because of data shortages. Thus, no method proved to outperform the others generally. The decision, which method is appropriate for an event, should be made objectively using cross-validation, but also subjectively, using the expert knowledge of the forecaster.