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Rainfall measurements

Delft
University of
Technology

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How is rainfall generated?

>> CONDENSATION THROUGH LIFTING

Lifting mechanisms:
1. Convection
2. Orographic lifting
3. Frontal lifting
4. Cyclones, tropical depressions,
typhoons or hurricanes
5. Convergence

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1. Lifting by convection

• Common in tropics • Local


• Temperate climates: • Storm intensity: high
thunderstorms in summer • Storm duration: short

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2. Orographic lifting

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3. Frontal lifting – warm front

• Large frontal zone


• Low intensity
• Long duration

H L

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3. Frontal lifting – cold front

• Clear front
• High intensity
• Short duration

H L

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4. Cyclones, tropical depressions,
typhones or hurricanes

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5. Convergence: Inter Tropical
Convergence Zone (ITCZ)

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How to measure rainfall?

Maisbich: 1.17 km²


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How to measure rainfall?

Rhine: 185 000 km²


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Measuring rainfall

Options: Considerations:

1. Point scale: • Objective


• Accurate • Available money
• Small scale (Δx, Δt) • Available labour
• Accessibility site
2. Areal: • Scale
• Less accurate
• Large scale (Δx, Δt)
• Often free downloadable

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Point observations

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Measuring rainfall at point scale

Considerations:

• Location
• Height
• Sample interval
• Spatial distribution
• Rain gauge type

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Location and height

Reduction:
at 1.50m from ground level 84-96%
at 0,40m from ground level 93-97%

(Larson & Peck, 1974)

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Turbulence around the gauge rim

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Location and Height

• Solutions:
• screens
• turf wall

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Screens

• Alter wind shields

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Screens

• Nipher screen

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Turf wall

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Rain gauges types:
Manual rainfall collector

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Rain gauges types:
Tipping bucket

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Rain gauges types:
Tipping bucket

• Data example

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Rain gauges types:
Tilting siphon

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Rain gauges types:
Tilting siphon

• Data example

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Rain gauges types:
Optical

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Rain gauges types:
Heated and weighing

 Snow

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Rain gauges types:
Acoustic

• Disdrometer

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Areal observations

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Areal rainfall:
Radar

• Different frequencies & pulses


• Nowadays: pulse-Doppler radars (+ motion)

• Inaccuracies due to:


• Curvature earth
• Light rainfall no response
• Shielding

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Areal rainfall:
Remote Sensing

• Thermal Infra Red (Meteosat, MSG, GOES)


• Cold cloud duration: Tcloud top < -40 °C => rain

• Suitable for:
• Convergence & convective storms (semi-arid regions)

• Microwave imagers (SSM/I, AMSU-B, TMI, AMSR-E)


• Scattering (quantity & ice particle size)
• Emission of brightness temperature (water vapour)

• Non-suitable for:
• Orographic lifting & shallow convective storms (warm particles)

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Areal rainfall:
Some recent rainfall algorithms

• FEWS RFE 2.0


• METEOSAT Infrared (IR) satellite data
• Special Sensor Microwave/Imager (SSM/I)
• AMSU-B
• Ground stations

• Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM)


• On board sensors (microwave, IR, Radar)
• External microwave sensors (AMSU-B, SSM/I, AMSR-E)
• External IR
• Ground stations

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Winsemius, 2009

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Concluding…

>> RS is a great source, but you still need ground stations

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New development:
rainfall by cellular network

Overeem, 2013 PNAS


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Required number of rain stations

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Pearson Correlation ρ

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 r 
Correlation function i = 0 e  - 
 r0 

1
0.9
0.8
Correlation ρ.

0.7
0.6
0.5
0.4
0.3
0.2
0.1
0
0 r0 500 1000 1500 2000 2500 3000
Distance r

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 r 
Correlation function i = 0 e  - 
 r0 

1
0.9
0.8
Correlation ρ.

0.7
0.6
0.5
0.4
0.3
0.2
0.1
0
0 r0 500 1000 1500 2000 2500 3000
Distance r

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