A New Look at Rainfall Fluctuations and Scaling Properties of Spatial Rainfall Using Orthogonal Wavelets

Praveen Kumar St. Anthony Falls Hydraulic Laboratory, Department of Civil and Mineral Engineering, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota

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Efi Foufoula-Georgiou St. Anthony Falls Hydraulic Laboratory, Department of Civil and Mineral Engineering, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota

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Abstract

It has been observed that the finite-dimensional distribution functions of rainfall cannot obey simple scaling laws due to rainfall intermittency (mixed distribution with an atom at zero) and the probability of rainfall being an increasing function of area. Although rainfall fluctuations do not suffer these limitations, it is interesting to note that very few attempts have been made to study them in terms of their self-similarity characteristics. This is due to the lack of unambiguous definition of fluctuations in multidimensions. This paper shows that wavelet transforms offer a convenient and consistent method for the decomposition of inhomogeneous and anisotropic rainfall fields in two dimensions and that the components of this decomposition can be looked at as fluctuations of the rainfall field. It is also shown that under some mild assumptions, the component fields can be treated as homogeneous and thus are amenable to second-order analysis, which can provide useful insight into the nature of the process. The fact that wavelet transforms are a space-scale method also provides a convenient tool to study scaling characteristics of the process. Orthogonal wavelets are used, and these properties are investigated for a squall-line storm to study the presence of self-similarity.

Abstract

It has been observed that the finite-dimensional distribution functions of rainfall cannot obey simple scaling laws due to rainfall intermittency (mixed distribution with an atom at zero) and the probability of rainfall being an increasing function of area. Although rainfall fluctuations do not suffer these limitations, it is interesting to note that very few attempts have been made to study them in terms of their self-similarity characteristics. This is due to the lack of unambiguous definition of fluctuations in multidimensions. This paper shows that wavelet transforms offer a convenient and consistent method for the decomposition of inhomogeneous and anisotropic rainfall fields in two dimensions and that the components of this decomposition can be looked at as fluctuations of the rainfall field. It is also shown that under some mild assumptions, the component fields can be treated as homogeneous and thus are amenable to second-order analysis, which can provide useful insight into the nature of the process. The fact that wavelet transforms are a space-scale method also provides a convenient tool to study scaling characteristics of the process. Orthogonal wavelets are used, and these properties are investigated for a squall-line storm to study the presence of self-similarity.

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