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Xinxuan Zhang and Emmanouil N. Anagnostou

Abstract

The study evaluated a numerical weather model (WRF)-based satellite precipitation adjustment technique with 81 heavy precipitation events that occurred in three tropical mountainous regions (Colombia, Peru, and Taiwan). The technique was applied on two widely used near-real-time global satellite precipitation products—the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center morphing technique (CMORPH) and the Global Satellite Mapping of Precipitation project (GSMaP)—for each precipitation event. The WRF-adjusted satellite products along with the near-real-time and gauge-adjusted satellite products as well as the WRF simulation were evaluated by independent gauge networks at daily scale and event total scale. Results show that the near-real-time precipitation products exhibited severe underestimation relative to the gauge observations over the three tropical mountainous regions. The underestimation tended to be larger for higher rainfall accumulations. The WRF-based satellite adjustment provided considerable improvements to the near-real-time CMORPH and GSMaP products. Moreover, error metrics show that WRF-adjusted satellite products outperformed the gauge-adjusted counterparts for most of the events. The effectiveness of WRF-based satellite adjustment varied with events of different physical processes. Thus, the technique applied on satellite precipitation estimates of these events may exhibit inconsistencies in the bias correction.

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Xinxuan Zhang, Emmanouil N. Anagnostou, and Humberto Vergara

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.

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Xinxuan Zhang, Emmanouil N. Anagnostou, Maria Frediani, Stavros Solomos, and George Kallos

Abstract

In this study, the authors investigate the use of high-resolution simulations from the Weather Research and Forecasting Model (WRF) for evaluating satellite rainfall biases of flood-inducing storms in mountainous areas. A probability matching approach is applied to evaluate a power-law relationship between satellite-retrieved and WRF-simulated rain rates over the storm domain. Satellite rainfall in this study is from the NOAA Climate Prediction Center morphing technique (CMORPH). Results are presented based on analyses of five heavy precipitation events that induced flash floods in northern Italy and southern France complex terrain basins. The WRF-based adjusted CMORPH rain rates exhibited improved error statistics against independent radar rainfall estimates. The authors show that the adjustment procedure reduces the underestimation of high rain rates, thus moderating the magnitude dependence of CMORPH rainfall bias. The Heidke skill score for the WRF-based adjusted CMORPH was consistently higher for a range of rain rate thresholds. This is an indication that the adjustment procedure ameliorates the satellite rain rates to provide a better estimation. Results also indicate that the low rain detection of CMORPH technique is also identifiable in the WRF–CMORPH comparison; however, the adjustment procedure herein does not incorporate this effect on the satellite rainfall bias adjustment.

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