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Jessica M. Erlingis
,
Jonathan J. Gourley
,
Pierre-Emmanuel Kirstetter
,
Emmanouil N. Anagnostou
,
John Kalogiros
,
Marios N. Anagnostou
, and
Walt Petersen

Abstract

During May and June 2014, NOAA X-Pol (NOXP), the National Severe Storms Laboratory’s dual-polarized X-band mobile radar, was deployed to the Pigeon River basin in the Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina as part of the NASA Integrated Precipitation and Hydrology Experiment. Rain gauges and disdrometers were positioned within the basin to verify precipitation estimates from various radar and satellite precipitation algorithms. First, the performance of the Self-Consistent Optimal Parameterization–Microphysics Estimation (SCOP-ME) algorithm for NOXP was examined using ground instrumentation as validation and was found to perform similarly to or slightly outperform other precipitation algorithms over the course of the intensive observation period (IOP). Radar data were also used to examine ridge–valley differences in radar and microphysical parameters for a case of stratiform precipitation passing over the mountains. Inferred coalescence microphysical processes were found to dominate within the upslope region, while a combination of processes were present as the system propagated over the valley. This suggests that enhanced updrafts aided by orographic lift sustain convection over the upslope regions, leading to larger median drop diameters.

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Faye E. Barthold
,
Thomas E. Workoff
,
Brian A. Cosgrove
,
Jonathan J. Gourley
,
David R. Novak
, and
Kelly M. Mahoney

Abstract

Despite advancements in numerical modeling and the increasing prevalence of convection-allowing guidance, flash flood forecasting remains a substantial challenge. Accurate flash flood forecasts depend not only on accurate quantitative precipitation forecasts (QPFs), but also on an understanding of the corresponding hydrologic response. To advance forecast skill, innovative guidance products that blend meteorology and hydrology are needed, as well as a comprehensive verification dataset to identify areas in need of improvement.

To address these challenges, in 2013 the Hydrometeorological Testbed at the Weather Prediction Center (HMT-WPC), partnering with the National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL) and the Earth System Research Laboratory (ESRL), developed and hosted the inaugural Flash Flood and Intense Rainfall (FFaIR) Experiment. In its first two years, the experiment has focused on ways to combine meteorological guidance with available hydrologic information. One example of this is the creation of neighborhood flash flood guidance (FFG) exceedance probabilities, which combine QPF information from convection-allowing ensembles with flash flood guidance; these were found to provide valuable information about the flash flood threat across the contiguous United States.

Additionally, WPC has begun to address the challenge of flash flood verification by developing a verification database that incorporates observations from a variety of disparate sources in an attempt to build a comprehensive picture of flash flooding across the nation. While the development of this database represents an important step forward in the verification of flash flood forecasts, many of the other challenges identified during the experiment will require a long-term community effort in order to make notable advancements.

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Yixin Wen
,
Qing Cao
,
Pierre-Emmanuel Kirstetter
,
Yang Hong
,
Jonathan J. Gourley
,
Jian Zhang
,
Guifu Zhang
, and
Bin Yong

Abstract

This study proposes an approach that identifies and corrects for the vertical profile of reflectivity (VPR) by using Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) precipitation radar (PR) measurements in the region of Arizona and southern California, where the ground-based Next Generation Weather Radar (NEXRAD) finds difficulties in making reliable estimations of surface precipitation amounts because of complex terrain and limited radar coverage. A VPR identification and enhancement (VPR-IE) method based on the modeling of the vertical variations of the equivalent reflectivity factor using a physically based parameterization is employed to obtain a representative VPR at S band from the TRMM PR measurement at Ku band. Then the representative VPR is convolved with ground radar beam sampling properties to compute apparent VPRs for enhancing NEXRAD quantitative precipitation estimation (QPE). The VPR-IE methodology is evaluated with several stratiform precipitation events during the cold season and is compared to two other statistically based correction methods, that is, the TRMM PR–based rainfall calibration and a range ring–based adjustment scheme. The results show that the VPR-IE has the best overall performance and provides much more accurate surface rainfall estimates than the original ground-based radar QPE. The potential of the VPR-IE method could be further exploited and better utilized when the Global Precipitation Measurement Mission's dual-frequency PR is launched in 2014, with anticipated accuracy improvements and expanded latitude coverage.

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Bin Yong
,
Liliang Ren
,
Yang Hong
,
Jonathan J. Gourley
,
Xi Chen
,
Jinwei Dong
,
Weiguang Wang
,
Yan Shen
, and
Jill Hardy

Abstract

Hydrological processes in most semiarid regions on Earth have been changing under the impacts of climate change, human activities, or combinations of the two. This paper first presents a trend analysis of the spatiotemporal changes in water resources and then diagnoses their underlying atmospheric and socioeconomic causes over 10 catchments in the Laoha basin, a typical semiarid zone of northeast China. The impacts of climate variability and human activities on streamflow change were quantitatively evaluated by the VIC (Variable Infiltration Capacity) model. First, results indicate that six out of the 10 studied catchments have statistically significant downward trends in annual streamflow; however, there is no significant change of annual precipitation for all catchments. Two abrupt changes of annual streamflow at 1979 and 1998 are identified for the four largest catchments. Second, the Laoha basin generally experienced three evident dry–wet pattern switches during the past 50 years. Furthermore, this basin is currently suffering from unprecedented water shortages. Large-scale climate variability has affected the local natural hydrologic system. Third, quantitative evaluation shows human activities were the main driving factors for the streamflow reduction with contributions of approximately 90% for the whole basin. A significant increase in irrigated area, which inevitably resulted in tremendous agricultural water consumption, is the foremost culprit contributing to the dramatic runoff reduction, especially at midstream and downstream of the Laoha basin. This study is expected to enable policymakers and stakeholders to make well-informed, short-term practice decisions and better plan long-term water resource and ecoenvironment management strategies.

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Kiel L. Ortega
,
Travis M. Smith
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Kevin L. Manross
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Kevin A. Scharfenberg
,
Arthur Witt
,
Angelyn G. Kolodziej
, and
Jonathan J. Gourley

During the springs and summers of 2006 through 2008, scientists from the National Severe Storms Laboratory and students from the University of Oklahoma have conducted an enhanced severe-storm verification effort. The primary goal for the Severe Hazards Analysis and Verification Experiment (SHAVE) was the remote collection of high spatial and temporal resolution hail, wind (or wind damage), and flash-flooding reports from severe thunderstorms. This dataset has a much higher temporal and spatial resolution than the traditional storm reports collected by the National Weather Service and published in Storm Data (tens of square kilometers and 1–5 min versus thousands of square kilometers and 30–60 min) and also includes reports of nonsevere storms that are not included in Storm Data. The high resolution of the dataset makes it useful for validating high-resolution, gridded warning guidance applications.

SHAVE is unique not only for the type of data collected and the resolution of that data but also for how the data are collected. The daily operations of the project are largely student led and run. To complete the remote, high-resolution verification, the students use Google Earth to display experimental weather data and geographic information databases, such as digital phonebooks. Using these data, the students then make verification phone calls to residences and businesses, throughout the United States, thought to have been affected by a severe thunderstorm. The present article summarizes the data collection facilities and techniques, discusses applications of these data, and shows comparisons of SHAVE reports to reports currently available from Storm Data.

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N. Carr
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P.-E. Kirstetter
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Y. Hong
,
J. J. Gourley
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M. Schwaller
,
W. Petersen
,
Nai-Yu Wang
,
Ralph R. Ferraro
, and
Xianwu Xue

Abstract

Characterization of the error associated with quantitative precipitation estimates (QPEs) from spaceborne passive microwave (PMW) sensors is important for a variety of applications ranging from flood forecasting to climate monitoring. This study evaluates the joint influence of precipitation and surface characteristics on the error structure of NASA’s Tropical Rainfall Measurement Mission (TRMM) Microwave Imager (TMI) surface QPE product (2A12). TMI precipitation products are compared with high-resolution reference precipitation products obtained from the NOAA/NSSL ground radar–based Multi-Radar Multi-Sensor (MRMS) system. Surface characteristics were represented via a surface classification dataset derived from NASA’s Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS). This study assesses the ability of 2A12 to detect, classify, and quantify precipitation at its native resolution for the 2011 warm season (March–September) over the southern continental United States. Decreased algorithm performance is apparent over dry and sparsely vegetated regions, a probable result of the surface radiation signal mimicking the scattering signature associated with frozen hydrometeors. Algorithm performance is also shown to be positively correlated with precipitation coverage over the sensor footprint. The algorithm also performs better in pure stratiform and convective precipitation events, compared to events containing a mixture of stratiform and convective precipitation within the footprint. This possibly results from the high spatial gradients of precipitation associated with these events and an underrepresentation of such cases in the retrieval database. The methodology and framework developed herein apply more generally to precipitation estimates from other passive microwave sensors on board low-Earth-orbiting satellites and specifically could be used to evaluate PMW sensors associated with the recently launched Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission.

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Mengye Chen
,
Zhi Li
,
Shang Gao
,
Xiangyu Luo
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Oliver E. J. Wing
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Xinyi Shen
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Jonathan J. Gourley
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Randall L. Kolar
, and
Yang Hong

Abstract

Because climate change will increase the frequency and intensity of precipitation extremes and coastal flooding, there is a clear need for an integrated hydrology and hydraulic system that has the ability to model the hydrologic conditions over a long period and the flow dynamic representations of when and where the extreme hydrometeorological events occur. This system coupling provides comprehensive information (flood wave, inundation extents, and depths) about coastal flood events for emergency management and risk minimization. This study provides an integrated hydrologic and hydraulic coupled modeling system that is based on the Coupled Routing and Excessive Storage (CREST) model and the Australia National University-Geophysics Australia (ANUGA) model to simulate flood. Forced by the near-real-time Multi-Radar Multi-Sensor (MRMS) quantitative precipitation estimates, this integrated modeling system was applied during the 2017 Hurricane Harvey event to simulate the streamflow, the flood extent, and the inundation depth. The results were compared with postevent high-water-mark survey data and its interpolated flood extent by the U.S. Geological Survey and the Federal Emergency Management Agency flood insurance claims, as well as a satellite-based flood map, the National Water Model (NWM), and the Fathom (LISFLOOD-FP) model simulated flood map. The proposed hydrologic and hydraulic model simulation indicated that it could capture 87% of all flood insurance claims within the study area, and the overall error of water depth was 0.91 m, which is comparable to the mainstream operational flood models (NWM and Fathom).

Open access
Robert A. Clark III
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Zachary L. Flamig
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Humberto Vergara
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Yang Hong
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Jonathan J. Gourley
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Daniel J. Mandl
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Stuart Frye
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Matthew Handy
, and
Maria Patterson

Abstract

The Republic of Namibia, located along the arid and semiarid coast of southwest Africa, is highly dependent on reliable forecasts of surface and groundwater storage and fluxes. Since 2009, the University of Oklahoma (OU) and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) have engaged in a series of exercises with the Namibian Ministry of Agriculture, Water, and Forestry to build the capacity to improve the water information available to local decision-makers. These activities have included the calibration and implementation of NASA and OU’s jointly developed Coupled Routing and Excess Storage (CREST) hydrological model as well as the Ensemble Framework for Flash Flood Forecasting (EF5). Hydrological model output is used to produce forecasts of river stage height, discharge, and soil moisture.

To enable broad access to this suite of environmental decision support information, a website, the Namibia Flood Dashboard, hosted on the infrastructure of the Open Science Data Cloud, has been developed. This system enables scientists, ministry officials, nongovernmental organizations, and other interested parties to freely access all available water information produced by the project, including comparisons of NASA satellite imagery to model forecasts of flooding or drought. The local expertise needed to generate and enhance these water information products has been grown through a series of training meetings bringing together national government officials, regional stakeholders, and local university students and faculty. Aided by online training materials, these exercises have resulted in additional capacity-building activities with CREST and EF5 beyond Namibia as well as the initial implementation of a global flood monitoring and forecasting system.

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David Kitzmiller
,
Suzanne Van Cooten
,
Feng Ding
,
Kenneth Howard
,
Carrie Langston
,
Jian Zhang
,
Heather Moser
,
Yu Zhang
,
Jonathan J. Gourley
,
Dongsoo Kim
, and
David Riley

Abstract

This study investigates evolving methodologies for radar and merged gauge–radar quantitative precipitation estimation (QPE) to determine their influence on the flow predictions of a distributed hydrologic model. These methods include the National Mosaic and QPE algorithm package (NMQ), under development at the National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL), and the Multisensor Precipitation Estimator (MPE) and High-Resolution Precipitation Estimator (HPE) suites currently operational at National Weather Service (NWS) field offices. The goal of the study is to determine which combination of algorithm features offers the greatest benefit toward operational hydrologic forecasting. These features include automated radar quality control, automated ZR selection, brightband identification, bias correction, multiple radar data compositing, and gauge–radar merging, which all differ between NMQ and MPE–HPE. To examine the spatial and temporal characteristics of the precipitation fields produced by each of the QPE methodologies, high-resolution (4 km and hourly) gridded precipitation estimates were derived by each algorithm suite for three major precipitation events between 2003 and 2006 over subcatchments within the Tar–Pamlico River basin of North Carolina. The results indicate that the NMQ radar-only algorithm suite consistently yielded closer agreement with reference rain gauge reports than the corresponding HPE radar-only estimates did. Similarly, the NMQ radar-only QPE input generally yielded hydrologic simulations that were closer to observations at multiple stream gauging points. These findings indicate that the combination of ZR selection and freezing-level identification algorithms within NMQ, but not incorporated within MPE and HPE, would have an appreciable positive impact on hydrologic simulations. There were relatively small differences between NMQ and HPE gauge–radar estimates in terms of accuracy and impacts on hydrologic simulations, most likely due to the large influence of the input rain gauge information.

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Steven M. Martinaitis
,
Katie A. Wilson
,
Nusrat Yussouf
,
Jonathan J. Gourley
,
Humberto Vergara
,
Tiffany C. Meyer
,
Pamela L. Heinselman
,
Alan Gerard
,
Kodi L. Berry
,
Andres Vergara
, and
Justin Monroe

Abstract

There are ongoing efforts to move beyond the current paradigm of using deterministic products driven by observational-only data to make binary warning decisions. Recent works have focused on severe thunderstorm hazards, such as hail, lightning, and tornadoes. This study discusses the one of the first steps towards having probabilistic information combined with convective-scale short-term precipitation forecasts available for the prediction and warning of flash flooding. Participants in the Hydrometeorology Testbed—MRMS Hydrology (HMT-Hydro) experiment evaluated several probabilistic-based hydrologic model output from the probabilistic Flooded Locations and Simulated Hydrographs (PRO-FLASH) system during experimental real-time warning operations. Evaluation of flash flood warning performance combined with product surveys highlighted how forecasters perceived biases within the probabilistic information and how the different probabilistic approaches influenced warnings that were verified versus those that were unverified. The incorporation of the Warn-on-Forecast System (WoFS) ensemble precipitation forecasts into the PRO-FLASH product generation provided an opportunity to evaluate the first coupling of sub-hourly convective-scale ensemble precipitation forecasts with probabilistic hydrologic modeling at the flash flood warning time scale through archived case simulations. The addition of WoFS precipitation forecasts resulted in an increase in warning lead time, including four events with ≥ 29 minutes of additional lead time but with increased probabilities of false alarms. Additional feedback from participants provided insights into the application of WoFS forecasts into warning decisions, including how flash flood expectations and confidence evolved for verified flash flood events and how forecast probabilistic products can positively influence the communications of the potential for flash flooding.

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