Articles | Volume 15, issue 6
Research article
24 Jun 2011
Research article |  | 24 Jun 2011

Modelling the statistical dependence of rainfall event variables through copula functions

M. Balistrocchi and B. Bacchi

Abstract. In many hydrological models, such as those derived by analytical probabilistic methods, the precipitation stochastic process is represented by means of individual storm random variables which are supposed to be independent of each other. However, several proposals were advanced to develop joint probability distributions able to account for the observed statistical dependence. The traditional technique of the multivariate statistics is nevertheless affected by several drawbacks, whose most evident issue is the unavoidable subordination of the dependence structure assessment to the marginal distribution fitting. Conversely, the copula approach can overcome this limitation, by dividing the problem in two distinct parts. Furthermore, goodness-of-fit tests were recently made available and a significant improvement in the function selection reliability has been achieved. Herein the dependence structure of the rainfall event volume, the wet weather duration and the interevent time is assessed and verified by test statistics with respect to three long time series recorded in different Italian climates. Paired analyses revealed a non negligible dependence between volume and duration, while the interevent period proved to be substantially independent of the other variables. A unique copula model seems to be suitable for representing this dependence structure, despite the sensitivity demonstrated by its parameter towards the threshold utilized in the procedure for extracting the independent events. The joint probability function was finally developed by adopting a Weibull model for the marginal distributions.