Real-Time Forecasting: Model Structure and Data Resolution

  • Ian D. Cluckie
  • Pao-shan Yu
  • Kevin A. Tiford


This paper introduces transfer function rainfall runoff models based on three different spatial structures: lumped, semi-distributed and grid-based fully distributed. All the models have been developed for use with radar derived estimated of rainfall, though raingauge data can also be used. The mathematical basis for each model structure is introduced and the underlying assumptions explained. The paper describes via case studies the application of each model structure to river catchments in the North-west and East of England - catchments which differ considerably in size and their physical characteristics. In addition to the spatial dimension, the intensity resolution of the rainfall data (a function of radar return signal quantisation) is considered as it pertains to flood forecasting with rainfall runoff models. A detailed analysis of high and low intensity resolution (eight and three-bit) radar rainfall data using spectral analysis techniques to study information content, and end-point use assessment of forecast quality shows the three-bit rainfall data to be sufficient for flood forecasting despite its lower intensity resolution. Exaplanations are provided by consideration of the nature of catchment processes, the information content of the rainfall data, and the mathematical characteristics of the rainfall runoff model. The implications of this for operational use of remotely sensed radar rainfall data are discussed.


Rainfall Data Intensity Resolution Flood Forecast Rainfall Runoff Model Weather Radar 
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Copyright information

© ECSC, EEC, EAEC, Brussels and Luxembourg 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ian D. Cluckie
    • 1
  • Pao-shan Yu
    • 1
  • Kevin A. Tiford
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Civil EngineeringUniversity of SalfordSalfordEngland, UK

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