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Relationship between Rainfall Variability and the Predictability of Radar Rainfall Nowcasting Models

1, 1,2,3,* and 2
Key Laboratory of Virtual Geographic Environment, Nanjing Normal University, Ministry of Education, Nanjing 210023, China
Water and Environmental Management Research Centre, Department of Civil Engineering, University of Bristol, Bristol BS8 1TR, UK
Jiangsu Center for Collaborative Innovation in Geographical Information Resource Development and Application, Nanjing 210023, China
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Atmosphere 2019, 10(8), 458;
Received: 26 June 2019 / Revised: 7 August 2019 / Accepted: 8 August 2019 / Published: 12 August 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Radar Hydrology and QPE Uncertainties)
PDF [4859 KB, uploaded 12 August 2019]


Radar rainfall nowcasts are subject to many sources of uncertainty and these uncertainties change with the characteristics of a storm. The predictive skill of a radar rainfall nowcasting model can be difficult to understand as sometimes it appears to be perfect but at other times it is highly inaccurate. This hinders the decision making required for the early warning of natural hazards caused by rainfall. In this study we define radar spatial and temporal rainfall variability and relate them to the predictive skill of a nowcasting model. The short-term ensemble prediction system model is configured to predict 731 events with lead times of one, two, and three hours. The nowcasting skill is expressed in terms of six well-known indicators. The results show that the quality of radar rainfall nowcasts increases with the rainfall autocorrelation and decreases with the rainfall variability coefficient. The uncertainty of radar rainfall nowcasts also shows a positive connection with rainfall variability. In addition, the spatial variability is more important than the temporal variability. Based on these results, we recommend that the lead time for radar rainfall nowcasting models should change depending on the storm and that it should be determined according to the rainfall variability. Such measures could improve trust in the rainfall nowcast products that are used for hydrological and meteorological applications. View Full-Text
Keywords: rainfall complexity; radar rainfall; nowcasting; rainfall uncertainty rainfall complexity; radar rainfall; nowcasting; rainfall uncertainty

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Liu, Z.; Dai, Q.; Zhuo, L. Relationship between Rainfall Variability and the Predictability of Radar Rainfall Nowcasting Models. Atmosphere 2019, 10, 458.

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