Articles | Volume 21, issue 6
Research article
09 Jun 2017
Research article |  | 09 Jun 2017

A non-stationary stochastic ensemble generator for radar rainfall fields based on the short-space Fourier transform

Daniele Nerini, Nikola Besic, Ioannis Sideris, Urs Germann, and Loris Foresti

Abstract. In this paper we present a non-stationary stochastic generator for radar rainfall fields based on the short-space Fourier transform (SSFT). The statistical properties of rainfall fields often exhibit significant spatial heterogeneity due to variability in the involved physical processes and influence of orographic forcing. The traditional approach to simulate stochastic rainfall fields based on the Fourier filtering of white noise is only able to reproduce the global power spectrum and spatial autocorrelation of the precipitation fields. Conceptually similar to wavelet analysis, the SSFT is a simple and effective extension of the Fourier transform developed for space–frequency localisation, which allows for using windows to better capture the local statistical structure of rainfall. The SSFT is used to generate stochastic noise and precipitation fields that replicate the local spatial correlation structure, i.e. anisotropy and correlation range, of the observed radar rainfall fields. The potential of the stochastic generator is demonstrated using four precipitation cases observed by the fourth generation of Swiss weather radars that display significant non-stationarity due to the coexistence of stratiform and convective precipitation, differential rotation of the weather system and locally varying anisotropy. The generator is verified in its ability to reproduce both the global and the local Fourier power spectra of the precipitation field. The SSFT-based stochastic generator can be applied and extended to improve the probabilistic nowcasting of precipitation, design storm simulation, stochastic numerical weather prediction (NWP) downscaling, and also for other geophysical applications involving the simulation of complex non-stationary fields.

Short summary
Stochastic generators are effective tools for the quantification of uncertainty in a number of applications with weather radar data, including quantitative precipitation estimation and very short-term forecasting. However, most of the current stochastic rainfall field generators cannot handle spatial non-stationarity. We propose an approach based on the short-space Fourier transform, which aims to reproduce the local spatial structure of the observed rainfall fields.