Hydrologic Evaluation of NWP-Adjusted CMORPH Estimates of Hurricane-Induced Precipitation in the Southern Appalachians

Xinxuan Zhang Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut

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Emmanouil N. Anagnostou Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut

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Humberto Vergara School of Civil Engineering and Environmental Science, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma

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Abstract

Satellite-retrieved precipitation has the potential to support flood modeling in mountainous areas. However, to reach this potential satellite estimates need to be corrected for the severe underestimation exhibited in orography-induced heavy precipitation events (HPEs). This paper assesses an existing satellite precipitation error correction technique driven by high-resolution numerical weather prediction (NWP) simulations of HPEs in complex terrain. The study is based on NOAA Climate Prediction Center morphing technique (CMORPH) high-resolution precipitation estimates of six such events induced by hurricane landfalls in the southern Appalachian mountainous region. A distributed hydrological model (Coupled Routing and Excess Storage model) is applied to evaluate the impact of the proposed satellite precipitation error correction on flood simulations for 20 basins of various sizes in this mountainous region. The results demonstrate significant improvements due to the NWP-based adjustment technique in terms of both the precipitation error characteristics and corresponding runoff simulations. These improvements are shown to be comparable to those from the postprocessed gauge-adjusted CMORPH precipitation product, which is promising for advancing hydrologic uses of satellite rainfall in mountainous areas lacking ground observations.

Corresponding author address: Emmanouil Anagnostou, Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Connecticut, Unit 2037, Storrs, CT 06269. E-mail: manos@engr.uconn.edu

Abstract

Satellite-retrieved precipitation has the potential to support flood modeling in mountainous areas. However, to reach this potential satellite estimates need to be corrected for the severe underestimation exhibited in orography-induced heavy precipitation events (HPEs). This paper assesses an existing satellite precipitation error correction technique driven by high-resolution numerical weather prediction (NWP) simulations of HPEs in complex terrain. The study is based on NOAA Climate Prediction Center morphing technique (CMORPH) high-resolution precipitation estimates of six such events induced by hurricane landfalls in the southern Appalachian mountainous region. A distributed hydrological model (Coupled Routing and Excess Storage model) is applied to evaluate the impact of the proposed satellite precipitation error correction on flood simulations for 20 basins of various sizes in this mountainous region. The results demonstrate significant improvements due to the NWP-based adjustment technique in terms of both the precipitation error characteristics and corresponding runoff simulations. These improvements are shown to be comparable to those from the postprocessed gauge-adjusted CMORPH precipitation product, which is promising for advancing hydrologic uses of satellite rainfall in mountainous areas lacking ground observations.

Corresponding author address: Emmanouil Anagnostou, Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Connecticut, Unit 2037, Storrs, CT 06269. E-mail: manos@engr.uconn.edu
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