Articles | Volume 16, issue 3
Research article
06 Mar 2012
Research article |  | 06 Mar 2012

Multiplicative cascade models for fine spatial downscaling of rainfall: parameterization with rain gauge data

D. E. Rupp, P. Licznar, W. Adamowski, and M. Leśniewski

Abstract. Capturing the spatial distribution of high-intensity rainfall over short-time intervals is critical for accurately assessing the efficacy of urban stormwater drainage systems. In a stochastic simulation framework, one method of generating realistic rainfall fields is by multiplicative random cascade (MRC) models. Estimation of MRC model parameters has typically relied on radar imagery or, less frequently, rainfall fields interpolated from dense rain gauge networks. However, such data are not always available. Furthermore, the literature is lacking estimation procedures for spatially incomplete datasets. Therefore, we proposed a simple method of calibrating an MRC model when only data from a moderately dense network of rain gauges is available, rather than from the full rainfall field. The number of gauges needs only be sufficient to adequately estimate the variance in the ratio of the rain rate at the rain gauges to the areal average rain rate across the entire spatial domain. In our example for Warsaw, Poland, we used 25 gauges over an area of approximately 1600 km2. MRC models calibrated using the proposed method were used to downscale 15-min rainfall rates from a 20 by 20 km area to the scale of the rain gauge capture area. Frequency distributions of observed and simulated 15-min rainfall at the gauge scale were very similar. Moreover, the spatial covariance structure of rainfall rates, as characterized by the semivariogram, was reproduced after allowing the probability density function of the random cascade generator to vary with spatial scale.