Articles | Volume 14, issue 12
Research article
03 Dec 2010
Research article |  | 03 Dec 2010

A stochastic design rainfall generator based on copulas and mass curves

S. Vandenberghe, N. E. C. Verhoest, E. Buyse, and B. De Baets

Abstract. The use of design storms can be very useful in many hydrological and hydraulic practices. In this study, the concept of a copula-based secondary return period in combination with the concept of mass curves is used to generate point-scale design storms. The analysis is based on storms selected from the 105 year rainfall time series with a 10 min resolution, measured at Uccle, Belgium. In first instance, bivariate copulas and secondary return periods are explained, together with a focus on which couple of storm variables is of highest interest for the analysis and a discussion of how the results might be affected by the goodness-of-fit of the copula. Subsequently, the fitted copula is used to sample storms with a predefined secondary return period for which characteristic variables such as storm duration and total storm depth can be derived. In order to construct design storms with a realistic storm structure, mass curves of 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th quartile storms are developed. An analysis shows that the assumption of independence between the secondary return period and the internal storm structure could be made. Based on the mass curves, a technique is developed to randomly generate an intrastorm structure. The coupling of both techniques eventually results in a methodology for stochastic design storm generation. Finally, its practical usefulness for design studies is illustrated based on the generation of a set of statistically identical design storm and rainfall-runoff modelling.