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Incorporating IMERG Satellite Precipitation Uncertainty into Seasonal and Peak Streamflow Predictions using the Hillslope Link Hydrological Model
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  • Samantha Hartke,
  • Daniel B Wright,
  • Felipe Quintero,
  • Aline S Falck
Samantha Hartke
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Corresponding Author:shartke@wisc.edu

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Daniel B Wright
University of Wisconsin-Madison
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Felipe Quintero
University of Iowa
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Aline S Falck
National Center for Monitoring and Early Warning of Natural Disasters (CEMADEN)
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In global applications and data sparse regions, which comprise most of the earth, hydrologic model-based flood monitoring relies on precipitation data from satellite multisensor precipitation products or numerical weather forecasts. However, these products often exhibit substantial errors during the meteorological conditions that lead to flooding, including extreme rainfall. The propagation of precipitation forcing errors to predicted runoff and streamflow is scale-dependent and requires an understanding of the autocorrelation structure of precipitation errors, since error autocorrelation impacts the accumulation of precipitation errors over space and time in hydrologic models. Previous efforts to account for satellite precipitation uncertainty in hydrologic models have demonstrated the potential for improving streamflow estimates; however, these efforts use satellite precipitation error models that rely heavily on ground reference data such as rain gages or weather radar and do not characterize the nonstationarity of precipitation error autocorrelation structures. This work evaluates a new method, the Space-Time Rainfall Error and Autocorrelation Model (STREAM), which stochastically generates possible true precipitation fields, as input to the Hillslope Link Model to generate ensemble streamflow estimates. Unlike previous error models, STREAM represents the nonstationary and anisotropic autocorrelation structure of satellite 2 precipitation error and does not use any ground reference to do so. Ensemble streamflow predictions are compared with streamflow generated using satellite precipitation fields as well as a radar-gage precipitation dataset during peak flow events. Results demonstrate that this approach to accounting for precipitation uncertainty effectively characterizes the uncertainty in streamflow estimates and reduces the error of predicted streamflow. Streamflow ensembles forced by STREAM improve streamflow prediction nearly to the level obtained using ground-reference forcing data across basin sizes.