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Developing Intensity-Duration-Frequency (IDF) Curves From Satellite-Based Precipitation: Methodology and Evaluation


Given the continuous advancement in the retrieval of precipitation from satellites, it is important to develop methods that incorporate satellite-based precipitation data sets in the design and planning of infrastructure. This is because in many regions around the world, in situ rainfall observations are sparse and have insufficient record length. A handful of studies examined the use of satellite-based precipitation to develop intensity-duration-frequency (IDF) curves; however, they have mostly focused on small spatial domains and relied on combining satellite-based with ground-based precipitation data sets. In this study, we explore this issue by providing a methodological framework with the potential to be applied in ungauged regions. This framework is based on accounting for the characteristics of satellite-based precipitation products, namely, adjustment of bias and transformation of areal to point rainfall. The latter method is based on previous studies on the reverse transformation (point to areal) commonly used to obtain catchment-scale IDF curves. The paper proceeds by applying this framework to develop IDF curves over the contiguous United States (CONUS); the data set used is Precipitation Estimation from Remotely Sensed Information Using Artificial Neural Networks – Climate Data Record (PERSIANN-CDR). IDFs are then evaluated against National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Atlas 14 to provide a quantitative estimate of their accuracy. Results show that median errors are in the range of (17–22%), (6–12%), and (3–8%) for one-day, two-day and three-day IDFs, respectively, and return periods in the range (2–100) years. Furthermore, a considerable percentage of satellite-based IDFs lie within the confidence interval of NOAA Atlas 14.

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