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David W. Pierce, Lu Su, Daniel R. Cayan, Mark D. Risser, Ben Livneh, and Dennis P. Lettenmaier

Abstract

Extreme daily precipitation contributes to flooding that can cause significant economic damages, and so is important to properly capture in gridded meteorological data sets. This work examines precipitation extremes, the mean precipitation on wet days, and fraction of wet days in two widely used gridded data sets over the conterminous U.S. (CONUS). Compared to the underlying station observations, the gridded data show a 27% reduction in annual 1-day maximum precipitation, 25% increase in wet day fraction, 1.5 to 2.5 day increase in mean wet spell length, 30% low bias in 20-year return values of daily precipitation, and 25% decrease in mean precipitation on wet days. It is shown these changes arise primarily from the time-adjustment applied to put the precipitation gauge observations into a uniform time frame, with the gridding process playing a lesser role. A new daily precipitation data set is developed that omits the time-adjustment (as well as extending the gridded data by 7 years) and is shown to perform significantly better in reproducing extreme precipitation metrics. When the new data set is used to force a land surface model, annually averaged 1-day maximum runoff increases 38% compared to the original data, annual mean runoff increases 17%, evapotranspiration drops 2.3%, and fewer wet days leads to a 3.3% increase in estimated solar insolation. These changes are large enough to affect portrayals of flood risk and water balance components important for ecological and climate-change applications across the CONUS.

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H. A. Titley, H. L. Cloke, S. Harrigan, F. Pappenberger, C. Prudhomme, J. C. Robbins, E. M. Stephens, and E. Zsoter

Abstract

Knowledge of the key drivers of the severity of river flooding from tropical cyclones (TCs) is vital for emergency preparedness and disaster risk reduction activities. This global study examines landfalling TCs in the decade from 2010 to 2019, to identify those characteristics that influence whether a storm has an increased flood hazard. The highest positive correlations are found between flood severity and the total precipitation associated with the TC. Significant negative correlations are found between flood severity and the translation speed of the TC, indicating that slower moving storms, that rain over an area for longer, tend to have higher flood severity. Larger and more intense TCs increase the likelihood of having a larger area affected by severe flooding but not its duration or magnitude, and it is found that the fluvial flood hazard can be severe in all intensity categories of TC, including those of tropical storm strength. Catchment characteristics such as antecedent soil moisture and slope also play a role in modulating flood severity, and severe flooding is more likely in cases where multiple drivers are present. The improved knowledge of the key drivers of fluvial flooding in TCs can help to inform research priorities to help with flood early warning, such as increasing the focus on translation speed in model evaluation and impact-based forecasting.

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Maxime Turko, Marielle Gosset, Modeste Kacou, Christophe Bouvier, Nanee Chahinian, Aaron Boone, and Matias Alcoba

Abstract

Urban floods due to intense precipitation are a major problem in many tropical regions as in Africa. Rainfall measurement using microwave links from cellular communication networks has been proposed as a cost effective solution to monitor rainfall in these areas where the gauge network is scarce. The method consists in retrieving rainfall from the attenuation estimated along the commercial microwave links (CMLs) thanks to the power levels provided by an operator. In urban areas where the network is dense, rainfall can be estimated and mapped for hydrological prediction. Rainfall estimation from CMLs is subject to uncertainties. This paper analyzes the advantages and limitations of this rainfall data for a distributed hydrological model applied to an urban area. The case study is in West Africa in Ouagadougou where a hydrological model has been set up. The analysis is based on numerical simulations, using high resolution rain maps from a weather radar to emulate synthetic microwave links. Two sources of uncertainty in the rain estimation and on the simulated discharge are analyzed by simulations: i) the precision of the raw information provided by the operator and ii) the density and geometry of the network. A coarse precision (1 dB) in the signal provided by the operator can lead to substantial underestimation of rainfall and discharge, especially for links operating at low frequency (below 10 GHz) or short (less than 1 km). The density of the current mobile networks in urban areas is appropriate to analyze hydrological impact of tropical convective rainfall.

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Linda Bogerd, Aart Overeem, Hidde Leijnse, and Remko Uijlenhoet

Abstract

Applications like drought monitoring and forecasting can profit from the global and near real-time availability of satellite-based precipitation estimates once their related uncertainties and challenges are identified and treated. To this end, this study evaluates the IMERG V06B Late Run precipitation product from the Global Precipitation Measurement mission (GPM), a multi-satellite product that combines space-based radar, passive microwave (PMW), and infrared (IR) data into gridded precipitation estimates. The evaluation is performed on the spatiotemporal resolution of IMERG (0.1° × 0.1°, 30 min) over the Netherlands over a five-year period. A gauge-adjusted radar precipitation product from the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI) is used as reference, against which IMERG shows a large positive bias. To find the origin of this systematic overestimation, the data is divided into seasons, rainfall intensity ranges, echo top height (ETH) ranges, and categories based on the relative contributions of IR, morphing, and PMW data to the IMERG estimates. Furthermore, the specific radiometer is identified for each PMW-based estimate. IMERG’s detection performance improves with higher ETH and rainfall intensity, but the associated error and relative bias increase as well. Severe overestimation occurs during low-intensity rainfall events and is especially linked to PMW observations. All individual PMW instruments show the same pattern: overestimation of low-intensity events and underestimation of high-intensity events. IMERG misses a large fraction of shallow rainfall events, which is amplified when IR data is included. Space-based retrieval of shallow and low-intensity precipitation events should improve before IMERG can be implemented over the middle and high-latitudes.

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David M. Mocko, Sujay V. Kumar, Christa D. Peters-Lidard, and Shugong Wang

Abstract

This study presents an evaluation of the impact of vegetation conditions on a land surface model (LSM) simulation of agricultural drought. The Noah-MP LSM is used to simulate water and energy fluxes and states, which are transformed into drought categories using percentiles over the continental United States from 1979 to 2017. Leaf area index (LAI) observations are assimilated into the dynamic vegetation scheme of Noah-MP. A weekly operational drought monitor (the U.S. Drought Monitor) is used for the evaluation. The results show that LAI assimilation into Noah-MP’s dynamic vegetation scheme improves the model’s ability to represent drought, particularly over cropland areas. LAI assimilation improves the simulation of the drought category, detection of drought conditions, and reduces the instances of drought false alarms. The assimilation of LAI in these locations not only corrects model errors in the simulation of vegetation, but also can help to represent unmodeled physical processes such as irrigation toward improved simulation of agricultural drought.

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Ioannis Sofokleous, Adriana Bruggeman, Silas Michaelides, Panos Hadjinicolaou, George Zittis, and Corrado Camera

ABSTRACT

A stepwise evaluation method and a comprehensive scoring approach are proposed and implemented to select a model setup and physics parameterizations of the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model for high-resolution precipitation simulations. The ERA5 reanalysis data were dynamically downscaled to 1-km resolution for the topographically complex domain of the eastern Mediterranean island of Cyprus. The performance of the simulations was examined for three domain configurations, two model initialization approaches and 18 combinations of atmospheric physics parameterizations. Two continuous and two categorical scores were used for the evaluation. A new extreme event score, which combines hits and frequency bias, was introduced as a complementary evaluator of extremes. A composite scaled score was used to identify the overall best performing parameterizations. The least errors in mean daily and monthly precipitation amounts and daily extremes were found for the domain configuration with the largest extent and three nested domains. A 5-day initialization frequency did not improve precipitation, relative to 30-day continuous simulations. The parameterization type with the largest impact on precipitation was microphysics. The cumulus parameterization was also found to have an impact on the 1-km nested domain, despite that it was only activated in the coarser “parent” domains. Comparison of simulations with 12-, 4-, and 1-km resolution revealed the better skill of the model at 1 km. The impact of the various model configurations in the small-sized domain was different from the impact in larger model domains; this could be further explored for other atmospheric variables.

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Lu Su, Qian Cao, Mu Xiao, David M. Mocko, Michael Barlage, Dongyue Li, Christa D. Peters-Lidard, and Dennis P. Lettenmaier

Abstract

We examine the drought variability over the conterminous United States (CONUS) for 1915–2018 using the Noah-MP land surface model. We examine different model options on drought reconstruction, including optional representation of groundwater and dynamic vegetation phenology. Over our 104-yr reconstruction period, we identify 12 great droughts that each covered at least 36% of CONUS and lasted for at least 5 months. The great droughts tend to have smaller areas when groundwater and/or dynamic vegetation are included in the model configuration. We detect a small decreasing trend in dry area coverage over CONUS in all configurations. We identify 45 major droughts in the baseline (with a dry area coverage greater than 23.6% of CONUS) that are, on average, somewhat less severe than great droughts. We find that representation of groundwater tends to increase drought duration for both great and major droughts, primarily by leading to earlier drought onset (some due to short-lived recovery from a previous drought) or later demise (groundwater anomalies lag precipitation anomalies). In contrast, representation of dynamic vegetation tends to shorten major droughts duration, primarily due to earlier drought demise (closed stoma or dead vegetation reduces ET loss during droughts). On a regional basis, the U.S. Southwest (Southeast) has the longest (shortest) major drought durations. Consistent with earlier work, dry area coverage in all subregions except the Southwest has decreased. The effects of groundwater and dynamic vegetation vary regionally due to differences in groundwater depths (hence connectivity with the surface) and vegetation types.

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Zhangkang Shu, Jianyun Zhang, Junliang Jin, Lin Wang, Guoqing Wang, Jie Wang, Zhouliang Sun, Ji Liu, Yanli Liu, Ruimin He, Cuishan Liu, and Zhenxin Bao

Abstract

We evaluated 24-h control forecast products from The International Grand Global Ensemble center over the 10 first-class water resource regions of Mainland China in 2013–18 from the perspective of precipitation processes (continuous) and precipitation events (discrete). We evaluated the forecasts from the China Meteorological Administration (CMA), the Centro de Previsão de Tempo e Estudos Climáticos (CPTEC), the Canadian Meteorological Centre (CMC), the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF), the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), the Korea Meteorological Administration (KMA), the United Kingdom Met Office (UKMO), and the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP). We analyzed the differences among the numerical weather prediction (NWP) models in predicting various types of precipitation events and showed the spatial variations in the quantitative precipitation forecast efficiency of the NWP models over Mainland China. Meanwhile, we also combined four hydrological models to conduct meteo-hydrological runoff forecasting in three typical basins and used the Bayesian model averaging (BMA) method to perform the ensemble forecast of different scenarios. Our results showed that the models generally underestimate and overestimate precipitation in northwestern China and southwestern China, respectively. This tendency became increasingly clear as the lead time rose. Each model has a high reliability for the forecast of no-rain and light rain in the next 10 days, whereas the NWP model only has high reliability on the next day for moderate and heavy rain events. In general, each model showed different capabilities of capturing various precipitation events. For example, the CMA and CMC forecasts had a better prediction performance for heavy rain but greater errors for other events. The CPTEC forecast performed well for long lead times for no-rain and light rain but had poor predictability for moderate and heavy rains. The KMA, UKMO, and NCEP forecasts performed better for no-rain and light rain. However, their forecasting ability was average for moderate and heavy rain. Although the JMA model performed better in terms of errors and accuracy, it seriously underestimated heavy rain events. The extreme rainstorm and flood forecast results of the coupled JMA model should be treated with caution. Overall, the ECMWF had the most robust performance. Discrepancies in the forecasting effects of various models on different precipitation events vary with the lead time and region. When coupled with hydrological models, NWP models not only control the accuracy of runoff prediction directly but also increase the difference among the prediction results of different hydrological models with the increase in NWP error significantly. Among all the single models, ECMWF, JMA, and NCEP have better effects than the other models. Moreover, the ensemble forecast based on BMA is more robust than the single model, which can improve the quality of runoff prediction in terms of accuracy and reliability.

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Anne Felsberg, Gabriëlle J. M. De Lannoy, Manuela Girotto, Jean Poesen, Rolf H. Reichle, and Thomas Stanley

Abstract

This global feasibility study assesses the potential of coarse-scale, gridded soil water estimates for the probabilistic modeling of hydrologically triggered landslides, using Soil Moisture Ocean Salinity (SMOS), Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP), and Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) remote sensing data; Catchment Land Surface Model (CLSM) simulations; and six data products based on the assimilation of SMOS, SMAP, and/or GRACE observations into CLSM. SMOS or SMAP observations (~40-km resolution) are only available for less than 20% of the globally reported landslide events, because they are intermittent and uncertain in regions with complex terrain. GRACE terrestrial water storage estimates include 75% of the reported landslides but have coarse spatial and temporal resolutions (monthly, ~300 km). CLSM soil water simulations have the added advantage of complete spatial and temporal coverage, and are found to be able to distinguish between “stable slope” (no landslide) conditions and landslide-inducing conditions in a probabilistic way. Assimilating SMOS and/or GRACE data increases the landslide probability estimates based on soil water percentiles for the reported landslides, relative to model-only estimates at 36-km resolution for the period 2011–16, unless the CLSM model-only soil water content is already high (≥50th percentile). The SMAP Level 4 data assimilation product (at 9-km resolution, period 2015–19) more generally updates the soil water conditions toward higher landslide probabilities for the reported landslides, but is similar to model-only estimates for the majority of landslides where SMAP data cannot easily be converted to soil moisture owing to complex terrain.

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Wen-Ying Wu, Zong-Liang Yang, and Michael Barlage

Abstract

Texas is subject to severe droughts, including the record-breaking one in 2011. To investigate the critical hydrometeorological processes during drought, we use a land surface model, Noah-MP, to simulate water availability and investigate the causes of the record drought. We conduct a series of experiments with runoff schemes, vegetation phenology, and plant rooting depth. Observation-based terrestrial water storage, evapotranspiration, runoff, and leaf area index are used to compare with results from the model. Overall, the results suggest that using different parameterizations can influence the modeled water availability, especially during drought. The drought-induced vegetation responses not only interact with water availability but also affect the ground temperature. Our evaluation shows that Noah-MP with a groundwater scheme produces a better temporal relationship in terrestrial water storage compared with observations. Leaf area index from dynamic vegetation is better simulated in wet years than dry years. Reduction of positive biases in runoff and reduction of negative biases in evapotranspiration are found in simulations with groundwater, dynamic vegetation, and deeper rooting zone depth. Multiparameterization experiments show the uncertainties of drought monitoring and provide a mechanistic understanding of disparities in dry anomalies.

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