We investigate the application of rainfall observations and forecasts from rain gauges and weather radar as input to operational urban runoff forecasting models. We apply lumped rainfall runoff models implemented in a stochastic grey-box modelling framework. Different model structures are considered that account for the spatial distribution of rainfall in different degrees of detail. Considering two urban example catchments, we show that statically adjusted radar rainfall input improves the quality of probabilistic runoff forecasts as compared to input based on rain gauge observations, although the characteristics of these radar measurements are rather different from those on the ground. Data driven runoff forecasting models can to some extent adapt to bias of the rainfall input by model parameter calibration and state-updating. More detailed structures in these models provide improved runoff forecasts compared to the structures considering mean areal rainfall only. A time-dynamic adjustment of the radar data to rain gauge data provides improved rainfall forecasts when compared with rainfall observations on the ground. However, dynamic adjustment reduces the potential for creating runoff forecasts and in fact also leads to reduced cross correlation between radar rainfall and runoff measurements. We conclude that evaluating the performance of radar rainfall adjustment against rain gauges may not always be adequate and that adjustment procedure and online runoff forecasting should ideally be considered as one unit.
Journal of Hydrology, 2014, Vol 512, Issue May, p. 397-407
Stochastic grey-box model; Radar rainfall; Radar adjustment; Probabilistic forecasting; Real time control; Urban hydrology