Modeling radar-rainfall estimation uncertainties using elliptical and Archimedean copulas with different marginal distributions

Qiang Dai, Dawei Han, Miguel A Rico-Ramirez, T Islam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Given that radar-based rainfall has been broadly applied in hydrological studies, quantitative modelling of its uncertainty is critically important, as the error of input rainfall is the main source of error in hydrological modelling. Using an ensemble of rainfall estimates is an elegant solution to characterize the uncertainty of radar-based rainfall and its spatial and temporal variability. This paper has fully formulated an ensemble generator for radar precipitation estimation based on the copula method. Each ensemble member is a probable realization that represents the unknown true rainfall field based on the distribution of radar rainfall (RR) error and its spatial error structure. An uncertainty model consisting of a deterministic component and a random error factor is presented based on the distribution of gauge rainfall conditioned on the radar rainfall (GR|RR). Two kinds of copulas (elliptical and Archimedean copulas) are introduced to generate random errors, which are imposed by the deterministic component. The elliptical copulas (e.g. Gaussian and t-copula) generate the random errors based on the multivariate distribution, typically of decomposition of the error correlation matrix using the LU decomposition algorithm. The Archimedean copulas (e.g. Clayton and Gumbel) utilize the conditional dependence between different radar pixels to obtain random errors. Based on those, a case application is carried out in the Brue catchment located in southwest England. The results show that the simulated uncertainty bands of rainfall encompass most of the reference raingauge measurements with good agreement between the simulated and observed spatial dependences. This indicates that the proposed scheme is a statistically reliable method in ensemble radar rainfall generation and is a useful tool for describing radar rainfall uncertainty.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1992-2008
Number of pages17
JournalHydrological Sciences Journal
Issue number11
Early online date23 Sep 2014
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2014


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