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Long Yang, Maofeng Liu, James A. Smith, and Fuqiang Tian

Abstract

The August 1975 flood in central China was one of the most destructive floods in history. Catastrophic flooding was the product of extreme rainfall from Typhoon Nina over a 3-day period from 5 to 7 August 1975. Despite the prominence of the August 1975 flood, relatively little is known about the evolution of rainfall responsible for the flood. Details of extreme rainfall and flooding for the August 1975 event in central China are examined based on empirical analyses of rainfall and streamflow measurements and based on downscaling simulations using the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model, driven by Twentieth Century Reanalysis (20CR) fields. Key hydrometeorological features of the flood event are placed in a climatological context through hydroclimatological analyses of 20CR fields. Results point to the complex evolution of rainfall over the 3-day period with distinctive periods of storm structure controlling rainfall distribution in the flood region. Blocking plays a central role in controlling anomalous storm motion of Typhoon Nina and extreme duration of heavy rainfall. Interaction of Typhoon Nina with a second tropical depression played a central role in creating a zone of anomalously large water vapor transport, a central feature of heavy rainfall during the critical storm period on 7 August. Analyses based on the quasigeostrophic omega equation identified the predominant role of warm air advection for synoptic-scale vertical motion. Back-trajectory analyses using a Lagrangian parcel tracking algorithm are used to assess and quantify water vapor transport for the flood. The analytical framework developed in this study is designed to improve hydrometeorological approaches for flood-control design.

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Fuqiang Tian, Shiyu Hou, Long Yang, Hongchang Hu, and Aizhong Hou

Abstract

This study investigates the dependency of the evaluation of the Integrated Multisatellite Retrievals for Global Precipitation Measurement (IMERG) rainfall product on the gauge density of a ground-based rain gauge network as well as rainfall intensity over five subregions in mainland China. High-density rain gauges (1.5 gauges per 100 km2) provide exceptional resources for ground validation of satellite rainfall estimates over this region. Eight different gauge networks were derived with contrasting gauge densities ranging from 0.04 to 4 gauges per 100 km2. The evaluation focuses on two warm seasons (April–October) during 2014 and 2015. The results show a strong dependency of the evaluation metrics for the IMERG rainfall product on gauge density and rainfall intensity. A dense rain gauge network tends to provide better evaluation metrics, which implies that previous evaluations of the IMERG rainfall product based on a relatively low-density gauge network might have underestimated its performance. The decreasing trends of probability of detection with gauge density indicate a limited ability to capture light rainfall events in the IMERG rainfall product. However, IMERG tends to overestimate (underestimate) light (heavy) rainfall events, which is a consistent feature that does not show strong dependency on gauge densities. The results provide valuable insights for the improvement of a rainfall retrieval algorithm adopted in the IMERG rainfall product.

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Zhihua He, Long Yang, Fuqiang Tian, Guangheng Ni, Aizhong Hou, and Hui Lu

Abstract

The aim of this study is to evaluate the accuracy of daily rainfall estimates based on the GPM level-3 final product derived from the IMERG algorithm (abbreviated as IMERG) and TRMM 3B42, version 7 (abbreviated as 3B42), in the upper Mekong River basin, a mountainous region in southwestern China. High-density rain gauges provide exceptional resources for ground validation of satellite rainfall estimates over this region. The performance of the two satellite rainfall products is evaluated during two rainy seasons (May–October) over the period 2014–15, as well as their applications in hydrological simulations. Results indicate that 1) IMERG systematically reduces the bias value in rainfall estimates at the gridbox scale and presents a greater ability to capture rainfall variability at the local domain scale compared with 3B42; 2) IMERG improves the ability to capture rain events with moderate intensities and presents higher capability in detecting occurrences of extreme rain events, but significantly overestimates the amounts of these extreme events; and 3) IMERG generally produces comparable daily streamflow simulations to 3B42 and tends to outperform 3B42 in driving hydrological simulations when calibrating model parameters using each rainfall input. This study provides an early evaluation of the IMERG rainfall product over a mountainous region. The findings indicate the potential of the IMERG product in overestimating extreme rain events, which could serve as the basis for further improvement of IMERG rainfall retrieval algorithms. The hydrological evaluations described here could shed light on the emerging application of retrospectively generated IMERG products back to the TRMM era.

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Long Yang, James A. Smith, Mary Lynn Baeck, Elie Bou-Zeid, Stephen M. Jessup, Fuqiang Tian, and Heping Hu

Abstract

In this study, observational and numerical modeling analyses based on the Weather Research and Forecasting Model (WRF) are used to investigate the impact of urbanization on heavy rainfall over the Milwaukee–Lake Michigan region. The authors examine urban modification of rainfall for a storm system with continental-scale moisture transport, strong large-scale forcing, and extreme rainfall over a large area of the upper Midwest of the United States. WRF simulations were carried out to examine the sensitivity of the rainfall distribution in and around the urban area to different urban land surface model representations and urban land-use scenarios. Simulation results suggest that urbanization plays an important role in precipitation distribution, even in settings characterized by strong large-scale forcing. For the Milwaukee–Lake Michigan region, the thermodynamic perturbations produced by urbanization on the temperature and surface pressure fields enhance the intrusion of the lake breeze and facilitate the formation of a convergence zone, which create favorable conditions for deep convection over the city. Analyses of model and observed vertical profiles of reflectivity using contoured frequency by altitude displays (CFADs) suggest that cloud dynamics over the city do not change significantly with urbanization. Simulation results also suggest that the large-scale rainfall pattern is not sensitive to different urban representations in the model. Both urban representations, the Noah land surface model with urban land categories and the single-layer urban canopy model, adequately capture the dominant features of this storm over the urban region.

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Long Yang, James A. Smith, Daniel B. Wright, Mary Lynn Baeck, Gabriele Villarini, Fuqiang Tian, and Heping Hu

Abstract

The authors examine the hydroclimatology, hydrometeorology, and hydrology of flooding in the Milwaukee metropolitan region of the upper midwestern United States. The objectives of this study are 1) to assess nonstationarities in flood frequency associated with urban transformation of land surface properties and climate change and 2) to examine how spatial heterogeneity in land surface properties and heavy rainfall climatology interact to determine floods in urbanizing areas. The authors focus on the Menomonee River basin, which drains much of the urban core of Milwaukee, and the adjacent Cedar Creek basin, where agricultural land use dominates. Results are based on analyses of bias-corrected, high-resolution (1-km2 spatial resolution and 15-min time resolution) radar rainfall fields that are developed using the Hydro-NEXRAD system, rainfall observations from a network of 21 rain gauges in the Milwaukee metropolitan region, and discharge observations from 11 U.S. Geological Survey stream gauging stations. Both annual flood peak magnitudes and annual peaks over threshold flood counts have increased for the Menomonee River basin during the past five decades, and these trends are accompanied by a transition of flood events dominated by snowmelt (March–April floods) to a regime in which warm season thunderstorms are the dominant flood-producing agents. The frequency of heavy rainfall events has increased significantly. The spatial distribution of rainfall for flood-producing storms in the Milwaukee study region exhibits striking spatial heterogeneity, with a maximum in the central portion of the Menomonee River basin. Storm event hydrologic response is determined by the interactions of spatial patterns of urbanization and rainfall distribution in the Menomonee River basin.

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