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Jonathan J. Gourley
,
Scott E. Giangrande
,
Yang Hong
,
Zachary L. Flamig
,
Terry Schuur
, and
Jasper A. Vrugt

Abstract

Rainfall estimated from the polarimetric prototype of the Weather Surveillance Radar-1988 Doppler [WSR-88D (KOUN)] was evaluated using a dense Micronet rain gauge network for nine events on the Ft. Cobb research watershed in Oklahoma. The operation of KOUN and its upgrade to dual polarization was completed by the National Severe Storms Laboratory. Storm events included an extreme rainfall case from Tropical Storm Erin that had a 100-yr return interval. Comparisons with collocated Micronet rain gauge measurements indicated all six rainfall algorithms that used polarimetric observations had lower root-mean-squared errors and higher Pearson correlation coefficients than the conventional algorithm that used reflectivity factor alone when considering all events combined. The reflectivity based relation R(Z) was the least biased with an event-combined normalized bias of −9%. The bias for R(Z), however, was found to vary significantly from case to case and as a function of rainfall intensity. This variability was attributed to different drop size distributions (DSDs) and the presence of hail. The synthetic polarimetric algorithm R(syn) had a large normalized bias of −31%, but this bias was found to be stationary.

To evaluate whether polarimetric radar observations improve discharge simulation, recent advances in Markov Chain Monte Carlo simulation using the Hydrology Laboratory Research Distributed Hydrologic Model (HL-RDHM) were used. This Bayesian approach infers the posterior probability density function of model parameters and output predictions, which allows us to quantify HL-RDHM uncertainty. Hydrologic simulations were compared to observed streamflow and also to simulations forced by rain gauge inputs. The hydrologic evaluation indicated that all polarimetric rainfall estimators outperformed the conventional R(Z) algorithm, but only after their long-term biases were identified and corrected.

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