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Open AccessArticle

Advancing Precipitation Estimation and Streamflow Simulations in Complex Terrain with X-Band Dual-Polarization Radar Observations

National Observatory of Athens, IERSD, 15236 Athens, Greece
Department of Environmental Engineering, School of Engineering, DUTH, 67100 Xanthi, Greece
Department of Water Resources, School of Civil Engineering, NTUA, 10682 Athens, Greece
Civil and Environmental Engineering, School of Engineering, University of Connecticut, Hartford, CT 06269, USA
Institute of Earth Sciences, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem 9190401, Israel
Institute for Alpine Environment, Eurac research, 39100 Bolzano, Italy
Department of Ecology, University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck A-6020, Austria
Department of Land, Environment, Agriculture and Forestry, University of Padova, 35122 Padova, Italy
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Remote Sens. 2018, 10(8), 1258;
Received: 26 June 2018 / Revised: 22 July 2018 / Accepted: 6 August 2018 / Published: 10 August 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing of Precipitation)
In mountain basins, the use of long-range operational weather radars is often associated with poor quantitative precipitation estimation due to a number of challenges posed by the complexity of terrain. As a result, the applicability of radar-based precipitation estimates for hydrological studies is often limited over areas that are in close proximity to the radar. This study evaluates the advantages of using X-band polarimetric (XPOL) radar as a means to fill the coverage gaps and improve complex terrain precipitation estimation and associated hydrological applications based on a field experiment conducted in an area of Northeast Italian Alps characterized by large elevation differences. The corresponding rainfall estimates from two operational C-band weather radar observations are compared to the XPOL rainfall estimates for a near-range (10–35 km) mountainous basin (64 km2). In situ rainfall observations from a dense rain gauge network and two disdrometers (a 2D-video and a Parsivel) are used for ground validation of the radar-rainfall estimates. Ten storm events over a period of two years are used to explore the differences between the locally deployed XPOL vs. longer-range operational radar-rainfall error statistics. Hourly aggregate rainfall estimates by XPOL, corrected for rain-path attenuation and vertical reflectivity profile, exhibited correlations between 0.70 and 0.99 against reference rainfall data and 21% mean relative error for rainfall rates above 0.2 mm h−1. The corresponding metrics from the operational radar-network rainfall products gave a strong underestimation (50–70%) and lower correlations (0.48–0.81). For the two highest flow-peak events, a hydrological model (Kinematic Local Excess Model) was forced with the different radar-rainfall estimations and in situ rain gauge precipitation data at hourly resolution, exhibiting close agreement between the XPOL and gauge-based driven runoff simulations, while the simulations obtained by the operational radar rainfall products resulted in a greatly underestimated runoff response. View Full-Text
Keywords: X-band radar; dual-polarization; precipitation; complex terrain; runoff simulations X-band radar; dual-polarization; precipitation; complex terrain; runoff simulations
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Anagnostou, M.N.; Nikolopoulos, E.I.; Kalogiros, J.; Anagnostou, E.N.; Marra, F.; Mair, E.; Bertoldi, G.; Tappeiner, U.; Borga, M. Advancing Precipitation Estimation and Streamflow Simulations in Complex Terrain with X-Band Dual-Polarization Radar Observations. Remote Sens. 2018, 10, 1258.

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