Articles | Volume 21, issue 7
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 21, 3859–3878, 2017
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-21-3859-2017

Special issue: Rainfall and urban hydrology

Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 21, 3859–3878, 2017
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-21-3859-2017

Review article 28 Jul 2017

Review article | 28 Jul 2017

Spatial and temporal variability of rainfall and their effects on hydrological response in urban areas – a review

Elena Cristiano, Marie-Claire ten Veldhuis, and Nick van de Giesen Elena Cristiano et al.
  • Department of Water Management, Delft University of Technology, P.O. Box 5048, 2600 GA, Delft, the Netherlands

Abstract. In urban areas, hydrological processes are characterized by high variability in space and time, making them sensitive to small-scale temporal and spatial rainfall variability. In the last decades new instruments, techniques, and methods have been developed to capture rainfall and hydrological processes at high resolution. Weather radars have been introduced to estimate high spatial and temporal rainfall variability. At the same time, new models have been proposed to reproduce hydrological response, based on small-scale representation of urban catchment spatial variability. Despite these efforts, interactions between rainfall variability, catchment heterogeneity, and hydrological response remain poorly understood. This paper presents a review of our current understanding of hydrological processes in urban environments as reported in the literature, focusing on their spatial and temporal variability aspects. We review recent findings on the effects of rainfall variability on hydrological response and identify gaps where knowledge needs to be further developed to improve our understanding of and capability to predict urban hydrological response.

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Short summary
In the last decades, new instruments were developed to measure rainfall and hydrological processes at high resolution. Weather radars are used, for example, to measure how rainfall varies in space and time. At the same time, new models were proposed to reproduce and predict hydrological response, in order to prevent flooding in urban areas. This paper presents a review of our current knowledge of rainfall and hydrological processes in urban areas, focusing on their variability in time and space.