Main content area

Adjustment of spatio-temporal precipitation patterns in a high Alpine environment

Herrnegger, Mathew, Senoner, Tobias, Nachtnebel, Hans-Peter
Journal of hydrology 2018 v.556 pp. 913-921
hydrologic models, model validation, monitoring, runoff, snow, stream flow, summer, water balance, watersheds, winter
This contribution presents a method for correcting the spatial and temporal distribution of precipitation fields in a mountainous environment. The approach is applied within a flood forecasting model in the Upper Enns catchment in the Central Austrian Alps.Precipitation exhibits a large spatio-temporal variability in Alpine areas. Additionally the density of the monitoring network is low and measurements are subjected to major errors. This can lead to significant deficits in water balance estimation and stream flow simulations, e.g. for flood forecasting models. Therefore precipitation correction factors are frequently applied.For the presented study a multiplicative, stepwise linear correction model is implemented in the rainfall–runoff model COSERO to adjust the precipitation pattern as a function of elevation. To account for the local meteorological conditions, the correction model is derived for two elevation zones: (1) Valley floors to 2000m a.s.l. and (2) above 2000m a.s.l. to mountain peaks. Measurement errors also depend on the precipitation type, with higher magnitudes in winter months during snow fall. Therefore, additionally, separate correction factors for winter and summer months are estimated. Significant improvements in the runoff simulations could be achieved, not only in the long-term water balance simulation and the overall model performance, but also in the simulation of flood peaks.