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Kernel-Based Mapping of Orographic Rainfall Enhancement in the Swiss Alps as Detected by Weather Radar

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3 Author(s)
Foresti, L. ; Inst. of Geomatics & Anal. of Risk, Univ. of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland ; Kanevski, M. ; Pozdnoukhov, A.

In this paper, we develop a data-driven methodology to characterize the likelihood of orographic precipitation enhancement using sequences of weather radar images and a digital elevation model (DEM). Geographical locations with topographic characteristics favorable to enforce repeatable and persistent orographic precipitation such as stationary cells, upslope rainfall enhancement, and repeated convective initiation are detected by analyzing the spatial distribution of a set of precipitation cells extracted from radar imagery. Topographic features such as terrain convexity and gradients computed from the DEM at multiple spatial scales as well as velocity fields estimated from sequences of weather radar images are used as explanatory factors to describe the occurrence of localized precipitation enhancement. The latter is represented as a binary process by defining a threshold on the number of cell occurrences at particular locations. Both two-class and one-class support vector machine classifiers are tested to separate the presumed orographic cells from the nonorographic ones in the space of contributing topographic and flow features. Site-based validation is carried out to estimate realistic generalization skills of the obtained spatial prediction models. Due to the high class separability, the decision function of the classifiers can be interpreted as a likelihood or susceptibility of orographic precipitation enhancement. The developed approach can serve as a basis for refining radar-based quantitative precipitation estimates and short-term forecasts or for generating stochastic precipitation ensembles conditioned on the local topography.

Published in:

Geoscience and Remote Sensing, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:50 ,  Issue: 8 )

Date of Publication:

Aug. 2012

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