Articles | Volume 17, issue 10
Research article
29 Oct 2013
Research article |  | 29 Oct 2013

Development of a method of robust rain gauge network optimization based on intensity-duration-frequency results

A. Chebbi, Z. K. Bargaoui, and M. da Conceição Cunha

Abstract. Based on rainfall intensity-duration-frequency (IDF) curves, fitted in several locations of a given area, a robust optimization approach is proposed to identify the best locations to install new rain gauges. The advantage of robust optimization is that the resulting design solutions yield networks which behave acceptably under hydrological variability. Robust optimization can overcome the problem of selecting representative rainfall events when building the optimization process. This paper reports an original approach based on Montana IDF model parameters. The latter are assumed to be geostatistical variables, and their spatial interdependence is taken into account through the adoption of cross-variograms in the kriging process. The problem of optimally locating a fixed number of new monitoring stations based on an existing rain gauge network is addressed. The objective function is based on the mean spatial kriging variance and rainfall variogram structure using a variance-reduction method. Hydrological variability was taken into account by considering and implementing several return periods to define the robust objective function. Variance minimization is performed using a simulated annealing algorithm. In addition, knowledge of the time horizon is needed for the computation of the robust objective function. A short- and a long-term horizon were studied, and optimal networks are identified for each. The method developed is applied to north Tunisia (area = 21 000 km2). Data inputs for the variogram analysis were IDF curves provided by the hydrological bureau and available for 14 tipping bucket type rain gauges. The recording period was from 1962 to 2001, depending on the station. The study concerns an imaginary network augmentation based on the network configuration in 1973, which is a very significant year in Tunisia because there was an exceptional regional flood event in March 1973. This network consisted of 13 stations and did not meet World Meteorological Organization (WMO) recommendations for the minimum spatial density. Therefore, it is proposed to augment it by 25, 50, 100 and 160% virtually, which is the rate that would meet WMO requirements. Results suggest that for a given augmentation robust networks remain stable overall for the two time horizons.