Significance of spatial variability in precipitation for process-oriented modelling: results from two nested catchments using radar and ground station data
Abstract. The importance of considering the spatial distribution of rainfall for process-oriented hydrological modelling is well-known. However, the application of rainfall radar data to provide such detailed spatial resolution is still under debate. In this study the process-oriented TACD (Tracer Aided Catchment model, Distributed) model had been used to investigate the effects of different spatially distributed rainfall input on simulated discharge and runoff components on an event base. TACD is fully distributed (50x50m2 raster cells) and was applied on an hourly base. As model input rainfall data from up to 7 ground stations and high resolution rainfall radar data from operational C-band radar were used. For seven rainfall events the discharge simulations were investigated in further detail for the mountainous Brugga catchment (40km2) and the St. Wilhelmer Talbach (15.2km2) sub-basin, which are located in the Southern Black Forest Mountains, south-west Germany. The significance of spatial variable precipitation data was clearly demonstrated. Dependent on event characteristics, localized rain cells were occasionally poorly captured even by a dense ground station network, and this resulted in inadequate model results. For such events, radar data can provide better input data. However, an extensive data adjustment using ground station data is required. For this purpose a method was developed that considers the temporal variability in rainfall intensity in high temporal resolution in combination with the total rainfall amount of both data sets. The use of the distributed catchment model allowed further insights into spatially variable impacts of different rainfall estimates. Impacts for discharge predictions are the largest in areas that are dominated by the production of fast runoff components. The improvements for distributed runoff simulation using high resolution rainfall radar input data are strongly dependent on the investigated scale, the event characteristics and the existing monitoring network.