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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Spatial Patterns in Thunderstorm Rainfall Events: Conceptual Modeling and Hydrological Insights 1578

Authors
item Morin, E. - UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA
item Goodrich, David
item Maddox, R. - UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA
item Gao, X. - UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA
item Gupta, H. - UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA
item Sorooshian, S. - UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA

Submitted to: International Hydrologic Applications of Weather Radar Proceedings
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: February 17, 2004
Publication Date: March 3, 2004
Citation: Morin, E., Goodrich, D.C., Maddox, R.A., Gao, X., Gupta, H.V., Sorooshian, S. 2004. Spatial patterns in thunderstorm rainfall events: conceptual modeling and hydrological insights. Proc. 6th Internat'l. Sym. On Hydrological Applications of Weather Radar, Feb. 2-4, Melbourne, Australia, 8 p.

Interpretive Summary: Arid and semi-arid regions account for approximately one-third of the land mass of earth. These regions are experiencing continued pressure from population growth in many parts of the world. Water is a critical resource in these regions and is often in short supply. Detailed study of water resources and the hydrology of semi-arid regions is important if we are to continue to populate and use these regions. Rainfall estimates from National Weather Service radar shown daily on popular news forecasts are being used for water resource decisions and models. However, the methods to estimate rainfall from radar are not well tested for semi-arid regions. Rainfall observations from the Walnut Gulch Experimental Watershed, operated by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service were used in conjunction with radar data to develop conceptual models of the rainfall spatial patterns. The modeled rainfall provides a simplified representation of the rainfall patterns yet retains the essential information to predict runoff and to more clearly understand what features of a rainstorm are important in generating runoff.

Technical Abstract: The characteristic spatial patterns of rainfall systems evolve from underlying processes in the systems. The important role of these rainfall patterns in watershed hydrology has long been recognized. This paper presents conceptual modeling of the rainfall spatial patterns associated with air mass thunderstorm events using observed radar data. The modeled rainfall retains a relatively simple structure while including the primary spatial features of rainfall patterns such as location and magnitude of maximum rainfall, areal extent of rain - no rain, and small-scale variability. The model was applied to radar rainfall data from Arizona and evaluated using rainfall data from a dense gauge network. Through a case study we demonstrate the use of modeled rainfall as input to a distributed hydrological model. This approach allows a comprehensive linkage between the runoff response and spatial rainfall patterns. We suggest that conceptual rainfall modeling can help in the acquisition of new insights into the behavior of rainfall systems and their interaction with the environment.

Last Modified: 12/19/2014
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