Articles | Volume 15, issue 8
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 15, 2561–2579, 2011
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 15, 2561–2579, 2011

Research article 18 Aug 2011

Research article | 18 Aug 2011

The within-day behaviour of 6 minute rainfall intensity in Australia

A. W. Western1, B. Anderson1,*, L. Siriwardena1, F. H. S. Chiew2, A. Seed3, and G. Blöschl4 A. W. Western et al.
  • 1Department of Infrastructure Engineering, The University of Melbourne, Australia
  • 2CSIRO Land and Water, Canberra, Australia
  • 3Centre for Australian Weather and Climate Research, Melbourne, Australia
  • 4Institute of Hydraulic Engineering and Water Resources Management Vienna University of Technology, Austria
  • *now at: Bureau of Meteorology, Australia

Abstract. The statistical behaviour and distribution of high-resolution (6 min) rainfall intensity within the wet part of rainy days (total rainfall depth >10 mm) is investigated for 42 stations across Australia. This paper compares nine theoretical distribution functions (TDFs) in representing these data. Two goodness-of-fit statistics are reported: the Root Mean Square Error (RMSE) between the fitted and observed within-day distribution; and the coefficient of efficiency for the fit to the highest rainfall intensities (average intensity of the 5 highest intensity intervals) across all days at a site. The three-parameter Generalised Pareto distribution was clearly the best performer. Good results were also obtained from Exponential, Gamma, and two-parameter Generalized Pareto distributions, each of which are two parameter functions, which may be advantageous when predicting parameter values. Results of different fitting methods are compared for different estimation techniques. The behaviour of the statistical properties of the within-day intensity distributions was also investigated and trends with latitude, Köppen climate zone (strongly related to latitude) and daily rainfall amount were identified. The latitudinal trends are likely related to a changing mix of rainfall generation mechanisms across the Australian continent.