AbstractRainfall thresholds are often used in early warning systems to identify rainfall conditions that, when reached or exceeded, are likely to result in debris flows. Rain gauges are typically used for the definition of these thresholds. However, in mountainous areas in situ observations are often sparse or nonexistent. Satellite-based rainfall estimates offer a solution to overcome the coverage problem at the global scale but are associated with significant estimation uncertainty. Evaluating satellite-based rainfall thresholds is thus necessary to understand their potential and limitations. In this work, an intercomparison among satellite-based precipitation products is presented in the context of estimating rainfall thresholds for debris flow prediction. The study is performed for the upper Adige River basin in the eastern Italian Alps during 2000–10. Large differences are observed between event-based characteristics (event duration and magnitude) derived from rain gauge and satellite-based estimates, revealing considerable interproduct variability in the debris flow–triggering rainfall characteristics. The parameters of the satellite-based thresholds differ less than 30% from the corresponding rain gauge–based parameters. Results further suggest that the adjustment of satellite-based estimates (either gauge based or by applying an error model) together with spatial resolution has an important impact on the estimation of the accumulation–duration thresholds.
Journal of Hydrometeorology – American Meteorological Society
Published: Aug 29, 2017
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