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Effect of rainfall spatial distribution and duration on minimum spatial resolution of rainfall data for accurate surface runoff prediction

Kim, Changhwan, Kim, Dae-Hong
Journal of hydro-environment research 2018 v.20 pp. 1-8
hydrograph, hydrologic models, meteorological data, prediction, rain, rain intensity, rainfall duration, runoff, storms
The effect of rainfall spatial distribution and duration on determining rainfall spatial resolution for runoff discharge prediction and equilibrium time estimation was studied. We simulated hydrographs and equilibrium times of storms which have the same spatial averaged rainfall intensity with wide range of spatial distributions and durations under stationary storm conditions on an idealized plane. The equilibrium times under various rainfall conditions were estimated with an approximate solution based on the kinematic wave assumption. The runoff hydrographs were simulated using a kinematic wave runoff model. The approximate and computed results were used to investigate the relationship between the spatial–temporal rainfall characteristics and rainfall spatial resolution. From the simulated results, it was found that (i) A required rainfall spatial resolution to achieve threshold accuracy depended on rainfall spatial distribution. For the simulated cases, the critical rainfall spatial resolution was higher as the slope of rainfall spatial distribution was steeper. (ii) The rainfall duration, as well as rainfall spatial distribution, was an important factor for determining a required rainfall spatial resolution for accurate flood prediction. The required rainfall spatial resolution to achieve threshold prediction accuracy was higher as the rainfall duration was shorter. (iii) The rainfall spatial distribution and duration which were traditionally neglected need to be considered in lumped runoff modelling or measurement as an important factor. Although limited to the ideal test cases, the maximum errors due to the low rainfall spatial resolution for the equilibrium time and peak discharge were about 25% and 35%, respectively.