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# W3 Atmospheric Water

Precipitation
CEHYDRO 3rd Term 2017-2018
Video resources
• https://youtu.be/6LkmD6B2ncs (the atmosphere)

## • https://youtu.be/I6jIMkPwahQ (intro to our atmosphere)

P Measurement
• http://www.space.com/20633-why-use-satellites-to-measure-rain-
video.html
Precipitation
• Precipitation: water falling from the atmosphere to the earth.
• Rainfall
• Snowfall
• Hail, sleet
• Requires lifting of air mass so that it cools and condenses.
Precipitation Types
Forms
Water – Precipitation/Evaporation

## 1)Temporal and spatial change in energy of

atmosphere will affect the amount of
moisture and thus heat transfer
2)Regional water mass balance will be
affected.
3)Precipitation is the primary input of water
to a catchment
4)Evaporation is (often) the primary output
from a catchment.
Catchment
Catchment (drainage basin, watershed): the basic unit of
volume (control) which is an area of land in which water
flowing across the land surface drains into a particular
stream and ultimately flows a single point or outlet.

## Our concern with precipitation and

evapotranspiration is in knowing the rates,
timing, and spatial distribution of these
water fluxes between the land and the
atmosphere.

dV/dt = p - rso - et = 0
on average  p = rso + et
Water in the atmosphere -
thermodynamic properties of moist air
Describing amounts of water vapor in the atmosphere.
There are a few ways to report the concentration of water vapor in the
atmosphere.
1. Vapor pressure (denoted e): is the partial pressure of water vapor
molecules in the atmosphere.
2. Relative humidity: is the ratio of actual vapor pressure to saturation
vapor pressure
3. Mixing ratio: is the mass of water vapor in grams per kilogram of air.
4. Dew point temperature: the temperature at which the vapor in a
cooled parcel of air begins to condense.
Water Vapour Pressure vs. Temperature
• Three primary steps in the
generation of precipitable
water in atmosphere:
1) Creation of saturated
conditions
2) Condensation of water vapor
3) Growth of small droplets by
collision and coalescence
Saturation Vapor Pressure Curve
Dew Point Temperature
Measures of Humidity
Processes
Classification of Precipitation events
Definitions
• Air mass : A large body of air with similar temperature and
moisture characteristics over its horizontal extent.
• Front: Boundary between contrasting air masses.
• Cold front: Leading edge of the cold air when it is advancing
towards warm air.
• Warm front: leading edge of the warm air when advancing
towards cold air.
Frontal Lifting
• Boundary between air masses with different properties is
called a front
• Cold front occurs when cold air advances towards warm air
• Warm front occurs when warm air overrides cold air

Cold front (produces cumulus cloud) Cold front (produces stratus cloud)
Orographic lifting
Orographic uplift occurs when air is forced to rise because of the physical
presence of elevated land.
Convective lifting
Convective precipitation occurs when the air near the ground is heated
by the earth’s warm surface. This warm air rises, cools and creates
precipitation.

Hot earth
surface
Winds and Wind belts
Precipitation/Evaporation
• Why?
1) Precipitation  Supply of freshwater (surface water
system)
2) Evaporation  Reduction in supply (and effect on quality!)

• Water management
1) Prediction of precipitation
2) Estimates of evaporation (water-agriculture)
3) Estimates of runoff
Point measurements (depth)
• How do you measure precipitation?
• How do you extrapolate specific point measurements to an
overall area?
• Non-recording vs. recording gages
a.Weighing
b.Tipping bucket
• Requires averaging of data over selected temporal/spatial
scales
Hydrologic Observations and
Parameters
The value of hydrologic observation over time or location (i.e.
precipitation) cannot be known exactly.

## Thus virtually all hydrologic quantities are random variables and

hydrologic observation must be regarded as samples taken from
some probability distribution (which is a theoretical relation
between magnitude and probability)

##  Statistical analysis (particularly estimation of the probability

distributions that quantify magnitude-frequency relations)
constitutes the principal means by which hydrologic observations
are transformed into terms that are useful for water-resource
management.
Hydrologic Observations and
Parameters
• Record at any given point tends to be tremendously variable
in time!
• Temporal record (hourly, daily) precipitation over time 
hyetograph
 Precipitation is commonly organized into discrete storm
events of varying intensity and duration!
 Our ability to forecast temporal variation to within a few
hours is limited (depending on the system), and is almost
zero for a few days in advance!
Precipitation intensity
 rate of precipitation over a specific time period
(precipitation depth divided by time over which the depth was
recorded)
 Average precipitation intensity depends, by necessity, on
the time period of the computation (longer time, lower
intensity)
 Relative measure of the likeliness of certain magnitudes
of precipitation (probabilistic approach only appropriate
under certain conditions).
Precipitation Variation
• Influenced by
• Atmospheric circulation and local factors
• Higher near coastlines
• Seasonal variation – annual oscillations in
some places
• Variables in mountainous areas
• Increases in plains areas
• More uniform in Eastern US than in
West
Spatial distribution dependent on
• Latitude
• Elevation
• Distance from moisture source (position within continental
land mass)
• Prevailing winds
• Relation to mountain ranges
• Relative Tº of land and bordering oceans
Global precipitation pattern
Spatial Representation
• Isohyet – contour of constant rainfall
• Isohyetal maps are prepared by interpolating rainfall
data at gaged points.

## Austin, May 1981 Wellsboro, PA 1889

Texas Rainfall Maps
Temporal Representation
• Rainfall hyetograph – plot of rainfall depth or intensity as a function
of time
• Cumulative rainfall hyetograph or rainfall mass curve – plot of
summation of rainfall increments as a function of time
• Rainfall intensity – depth of rainfall per unit time
Running Totals

## Rainfall Depth and Intensity Time (min) Rainfall (in) Cumulative

Rainfall (in)
30 min 1h 2h

0 0
5 0.02 0.02
10 0.34 0.36
15 0.1 0.46
20 0.04 0.5
25 0.19 0.69
30 0.48 1.17 1.17
35 0.5 1.67 1.65
40 0.5 2.17 1.81
45 0.51 2.68 2.22
50 0.16 2.84 2.34
55 0.31 3.15 2.46
60 0.66 3.81 2.64 3.81
65 0.36 4.17 2.5 4.15
70 0.39 4.56 2.39 4.2
75 0.36 4.92 2.24 4.46
80 0.54 5.46 2.62 4.96
85 0.76 6.22 3.07 5.53
90 0.51 6.73 2.92 5.56
95 0.44 7.17 3 5.5
100 0.25 7.42 2.86 5.25
105 0.25 7.67 2.75 4.99
110 0.22 7.89 2.43 5.05
115 0.15 8.04 1.82 4.89
120 0.09 8.13 1.4 4.32 8.13
125 0.09 8.22 1.05 4.05 8.2
130 0.12 8.34 0.92 3.78 7.98
135 0.03 8.37 0.7 3.45 7.91
140 0.01 8.38 0.49 2.92 7.88
145 0.02 8.4 0.36 2.18 7.71
150 0.01 8.41 0.28 1.68 7.24
Max. Depth 0.76 3.07 5.56 8.2
Max. Intensity 9.12364946 6.14 5.56 4.1
Incremental Rainfall
0.8

0.7
Incremental Rainfall (in per 5 min)

0.6

0.5

0.4

0.3

0.2

0.1

0
5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 55 60 65 70 75 80 85 90 95 100 105 110 115 120 125 130 135 140 145 150

Time (min)

Rainfall Hyetograph
Cumulative Rainfall
10

7
Cumulative Rainfall (in.)

5
3.07 in
4 8.2 in

3 30 min
5.56 in
2

1 1 hr

2 hr
0
0 30 60 90 120 150
Time (min.)

## Rainfall Mass Curve

Arithmetic Mean Method
• Simplest method for determining areal average

P1 = 10 mm
P1
P2 = 20 mm
P3 = 30 mm
P2
N
1
P
N
P
i 1
i

P3
10  20  30
P  20 mm
3

## • Gages must be uniformly distributed

• Gage measurements should not vary greatly about
the mean
Thiessen polygon method
• Any point in the watershed receives the same
amount of rainfall as that at the nearest gage P1
• Rainfall recorded at a gage can be applied to any A1
point at a distance halfway to the next station in
any direction P2
• Steps in Thiessen polygon method
1. Draw lines joining adjacent gages A2
2. Draw perpendicular bisectors to the lines created in P3
step 1
A3
3. Extend the lines created in step 2 in both directions
to form representative areas for gages
4. Compute representative area for each gage
5. Compute the areal average using the following
formula P1 = 10 mm, A1 = 12 Km2
P2 = 20 mm, A2 = 15 Km2
1 N
P   Ai Pi P
12 10  15  20  20  30
 20.7 mm P3 = 30 mm, A3 = 20 km2
A i 1 47
Isohyetal method
• Steps
• Construct isohyets (rainfall 10
contours)
20
• Compute area between each P1
pair of adjacent isohyets (Ai) A1=5 , p1 = 5

## • Compute average precipitation A2=18 , p2 = 15

for each pair of adjacent P2
isohyets (pi)
A3=12 , p3 = 25
• Compute areal average using
the following formula
P3
30 A4=12 , p3 = 35
1M N
PP   Ai pA P
i i i
A
i 1 i 1

5  5  18 15  12  25  12  35
P  21.6 mm
47
Inverse distance weighting
• Prediction at a point is more
influenced by nearby
measurements than that by distant P1=10
measurements
• The prediction at an ungaged point
is inversely proportional to the P2= 20 d1=25
distance to the measurement
d2=15 P3=30
points
• Steps d3=10
– Compute distance (di) from p
ungaged point to all measurement
points.
d12  x1  x2 2   y1  y2 2
N
P 
– Compute the precipitation at the   i2 
d 
10 20 30
 
ungaged point using the following Pˆ  i 1  i  Pˆ  252 152 102  25.24 mm
N 
1  1 1 1
formula  2  2
 2
 2
i 1  di  25 15 10
Rainfall interpolation in GIS
• Data are generally available as
points with precipitation
stored in attribute table.
Rainfall maps in GIS

## Nearest Neighbor “Thiessen” Spline Interpolation

Polygon Interpolation
• NEXt generation RADar: is a doppler radar used for obtaining weather
information
• A signal is emitted from the radar which returns after striking a rainfall drop
• Returned signals from the radar are analyzed to compute the rainfall
intensity and integrated over time to get the precipitation

(Weather Surveillance Radar-1988 Doppler)
scanning range = 230 km

## Stage I: Just Radar

Stage II: gages,
satellite, and surface
temperature
Stage III:
Continuous mosaic