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1 June 2008 Doppler Radar-Derived Rainfall Data Monitoring to Support Surface Water Modeling of TMDL
T. S. Wu, Doug Gilbert, Henry E. Fuelberg, Harry Cooper, Del Bottcher, Chris Reed
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A Calibrated High-Resolution Precipitation Database (CHPD) represents an enhanced tool for modelers developing Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDL) or using water resource related surface water (SW), ground water (GW) or integrated SW-GW models. With software support from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), funding support by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) and the Environmental Protection Agency, and academic support from Florida State University (FSU), Florida is the first State to have successfully completed the construction of a practical CHPD. Precipitation input for a watershed model typically has relied on weather data obtained from rain gauges that are sparsely distributed in a watershed. A popular method for computing precipitation is the Thiessen method. This method assigns an area called a Thiessen polygon around each gauge. The polygon is an area in which every interior point is closer to the particular gauge than to any other. In effect, the precipitation in the entire polygon is assumed to be uniform and equal to the gauge value. This method does not provide information about the rainfall distribution between gauges. In addition, the method cannot give the true rainfall distribution for isolated or fast moving storms that may cover one side of a street, but not the other, and change intensity and coverage along its passage. Hourly Doppler radar-derived rainfall (NEXRAD/WSR-88) estimates possess superior temporal and spatial resolution compared to gauges and can be applied to watershed modeling as part of TMDL projects. The Doppler-derived precipitation estimates are produced hourly on a 4-kilometer by 4-kilometer grid covering the nation. This paper introduces the eleven years of historical precipitation data in CHPD released through FDEP's computer world-wide-web server and the CHPD applications by using three watershed models – WAMView, Mike-SHE, and WASH. The WAMView application assesses the potential benefits of CHPD data in the Black Creek Basin, which is a small (1,253 Km2) watershed in North Florida. The Mike-SHE application investigates the comparative diagnostic advantages of using fully distributed CHPD- or Thiessen (gauge)-derived rainfall rates in the Black Creek Basin of modest topography during both convective and synoptic conditions. The WASH application is the FDEP's first TMDL modeling project using the CHPD data.

T. S. Wu, Doug Gilbert, Henry E. Fuelberg, Harry Cooper, Del Bottcher, and Chris Reed "Doppler Radar-Derived Rainfall Data Monitoring to Support Surface Water Modeling of TMDL," Journal of Coastal Research 2008(10052), 273-280, (1 June 2008).
Published: 1 June 2008
FDEP NEXRAD database
Thiessen polygon
Watershed Models (WAM, MIKE-SHE, WASH)
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