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Correcting the radar rainfall forcing of a hydrological model with data assimilation: application to flood forecasting in the Lez Catchment in Southern France

Harader, Elizabeth and Borrell-Estupina, Valérie and Ricci, Sophie and Coustau, Mathieu and Thual, Olivier and Piacentini, Andrea and Bouvier, Christophe Correcting the radar rainfall forcing of a hydrological model with data assimilation: application to flood forecasting in the Lez Catchment in Southern France. (2012) Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (16). 4247-4264. ISSN 1027-5606

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.5194/hess-16-4247-2012

Abstract

The present study explores the application of a data assimilation (DA) procedure to correct the radar rain- fall inputs of an event-based, distributed, parsimonious hy- drological model. An extended Kalman filter algorithm was built on top of a rainfall-runoff model in order to assimilate discharge observations at the catchment outlet. This work fo- cuses primarily on the uncertainty in the rainfall data and considers this as the principal source of error in the sim- ulated discharges, neglecting simplifications in the hydro- logical model structure and poor knowledge of catchment physics. The study site is the 114 km2 Lez catchment near Montpellier, France. This catchment is subject to heavy oro- graphic rainfall and characterised by a karstic geology, lead- ing to flash flooding events. The hydrological model uses a derived version of the SCS method, combined with a Lag and Route transfer function. Because the radar rainfall in- put to the model depends on geographical features and cloud structures, it is particularly uncertain and results in signifi- cant errors in the simulated discharges. This study seeks to demonstrate that a simple DA algorithm is capable of ren- dering radar rainfall suitable for hydrological forecasting. To test this hypothesis, the DA analysis was applied to estimate a constant hyetograph correction to each of 19 flood events. The analysis was carried in two different modes: by assimi- lating observations at all available time steps, referred to here as reanalysis mode, and by using only observations up to 3 h before the flood peak to mimic an operational environment, referred to as pseudo-forecast mode. In reanalysis mode, the resulting correction of the radar rainfall data was then com- pared to the mean field bias (MFB), a corrective coefficient determined using rain gauge measurements. It was shown that the radar rainfall corrected using DA leads to improved discharge simulations and Nash-Sutcliffe efficiency criteria compared to the MFB correction. In pseudo-forecast mode, the reduction of the uncertainty in the rainfall data leads to a reduction of the error in the simulated discharge, but un- certainty from the model parameterisation diminishes data assimilation efficiency. While the DA algorithm used is this study is effective in correcting uncertain radar rainfall, model uncertainty remains an important challenge for flood fore- casting within the Lez catchment.

Item Type:Article
Additional Information:Thanks to European Geosciences Union editor. The definitive version is available at www.hydrol-earth-syst-sci.net The original PDF of the article can be found at European Geosciences Union website : http://dx.doi.org/10.5194/hess-16-4247-2012
Audience (journal):International peer-reviewed journal
Uncontrolled Keywords:
Institution:French research institutions > Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - CNRS (FRANCE)
Université de Toulouse > Institut National Polytechnique de Toulouse - INPT (FRANCE)
French research institutions > Institut de Recherche pour le Développement - IRD (FRANCE)
Université de Toulouse > Université Toulouse III - Paul Sabatier - UPS (FRANCE)
Other partners > Université de Montpellier 1 (FRANCE)
Other partners > Université de Montpellier 2 (FRANCE)
Laboratory name:
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Deposited By: Olivier THUAL
Deposited On:26 Mar 2013 10:35

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