Articles | Volume 17, issue 4
Research article
17 Apr 2013
Research article |  | 17 Apr 2013

Statistical analysis of error propagation from radar rainfall to hydrological models

D. Zhu, D. Z. Peng, and I. D. Cluckie

Abstract. This study attempts to characterise the manner with which inherent error in radar rainfall estimates input influence the character of the stream flow simulation uncertainty in validated hydrological modelling. An artificial statistical error model described by Gaussian distribution was developed to generate realisations of possible combinations of normalised errors and normalised bias to reflect the identified radar error and temporal dependence. These realisations were embedded in the 5 km/15 min UK Nimrod radar rainfall data and used to generate ensembles of stream flow simulations using three different hydrological models with varying degrees of complexity, which consists of a fully distributed physically-based model MIKE SHE, a semi-distributed, lumped model TOPMODEL and the unit hydrograph model PRTF. These models were built for this purpose and applied to the Upper Medway Catchment (220 km2) in South-East England. The results show that the normalised bias of the radar rainfall estimates was enhanced in the simulated stream flow and also the dominate factor that had a significant impact on stream flow simulations. This preliminary radar-error-generation model could be developed more rigorously and comprehensively for the error characteristics of weather radars for quantitative measurement of rainfall.