Articles | Volume 369
11 Jun 2015
 | 11 Jun 2015

TRMM rainfall estimative coupled with Bell (1969) methodology for extreme rainfall characterization

E. Schiavo Bernardi, D. Allasia, R. Basso, P. Freitas Ferreira, and R. Tassi

Abstract. The lack of rainfall data in Brazil, and, in particular, in Rio Grande do Sul State (RS), hinders the understanding of the spatial and temporal distribution of rainfall, especially in the case of the more complex extreme events. In this context, rainfall's estimation from remote sensors is seen as alternative to the scarcity of rainfall gauges. However, as they are indirect measures, such estimates needs validation. This paper aims to verify the applicability of the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite information for extreme rainfall determination in RS. The analysis was accomplished at different temporal scales that ranged from 5 min to daily rainfall while spatial distribution of rainfall was investigated by means of regionalization. An initial test verified TRMM rainfall estimative against measured rainfall at gauges for 1998–2013 period considering different durations and return periods (RP). Results indicated that, for the RP of 2, 5, 10 and 15 years, TRMM overestimated on average 24.7% daily rainfall. As TRMM minimum time-steps is 3 h, in order to verify shorter duration rainfall, the TRMM data were adapted to fit Bell's (1969) generalized IDF formula (based on the existence of similarity between the mechanisms of extreme rainfall events as they are associated to convective cells). Bell`s equation error against measured precipitation was around 5–10%, which varied based on location, RP and duration while the coupled BELL+TRMM error was around 10–35%. However, errors were regionally distributed, allowing a correction to be implemented that reduced by half these values. These findings in turn permitted the use of TRMM+Bell estimates to improve the understanding of spatiotemporal distribution of extreme hydrological rainfall events.

Short summary
Results show the large potential of a simple general IDF equation as Bell’s (1969) equation to describe and understand the spatial and temporal distribution of extreme hydrological events involving heavy rainfall in Southern Brazil, when associated with TRMM estimate. This is important for a region with data scarcity, especially for shorter durations rainfall