In the French Alps the quality of the radar Quantitative Precipitation Estimation (QPE) is limited by the topography and the vertical structure of precipitation. A previous study realized in all the French Alps, has shown a general bias between values of the national radar QPE composite and the rain gauge measurements: a radar QPE over-estimation at low altitude (+20% at 200 m a.s.l.), and an increasing underestimation at high altitudes (until −40% at 2100 m a.s.l.). This trend has been linked to altitudinal gradients of precipitation observed at ground level. This paper analyzes relative altitudinal gradients of precipitation estimated with rain gauges measurements in 2016 for three massifs around Grenoble, and for different temporal accumulations (yearly, seasonal, monthly, daily). Comparisons of radar and rain gauge accumulations confirm the bias previously observed. The parts of the current radar data processing affecting the bias value are pointed out. The analysis shows a coherency between the relative gradient values estimated at the different temporal accumulations. Vertical profiles of precipitation detected by a research radar installed at the bottom of the valley also show how the wide horizontal variability of precipitation inside the valley can affect the gradient estimation.
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