Simulating small-scale rainfall fields conditioned by weather state and elevation: A data-driven approach based on rainfall radar images

Fabio Oriani, Noa Ohana-Levi, Francesco Marra, Julien Straubhaar, Gregoire Mariethoz, Philippe Renard, Amon Karnieli, Efrat Morin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


The quantification of spatial rainfall is critical for distributed hydrological modeling. Rainfall spatial patterns generated by similar weather conditions can be extremely diverse. This variability can have a significant impact on hydrological processes. Stochastic simulation allows generating multiple realizations of spatial rainfall or filling missing data. The simulated data can then be used as input for numerical models to study the uncertainty on hydrological forecasts. In this paper, we use the direct sampling technique to generate stochastic simulations of high-resolution (1 km) daily rainfall fields, conditioned by elevation and weather state. The technique associates historical radar estimates to variables describing the daily weather conditions, such as the rainfall type and mean intensity, and selects radar images accordingly to form a conditional training image set of each day. Rainfall fields are then generated by resampling pixels from these images. The simulation at each location is conditioned by neighbor patterns of rainfall amount and elevation. The technique is tested on the simulation of daily rainfall amount for the eastern Mediterranean. The results show that it can generate realistic rainfall fields for different weather types, preserving the temporal weather pattern, the spatial features, and the complex relation with elevation. The concept of conditional training image provides added value to multiple-point simulation techniques dealing with extremely nonstationary heterogeneities and extensive data sets.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8512-8532
Number of pages21
JournalWater Resources Research
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2017


  • elevation
  • multiple-point
  • radar
  • rainfall
  • simulation
  • stochastic

Programme Area

  • Programme Area 2: Water Resources


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