On the simulation of infiltration- and saturation-excess runoff using radar-based rainfall estimates: Effects of algorithm uncertainty and pixel aggregation

Michael Winchell, Hoshin Vijai Gupta, Soroosh Sorooshian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

115 Scopus citations


The effects of uncertainty in radar-estimated precipitation input on simulated runoff generation from a medium-sized (100-km2) basin in northern Texas are investigated. The radar-estimated rainfall was derived from Next Generation Weather Radar (NEXRAD) Level II base reflectivity data and was supplemented by ground-based rain-gauge data. Two types of uncertainty in the precipitation estimates are considered: (1) those arising from the transformation of reflectivity to rainfall rate and (2) those due to the spatial and temporal representation of the 'true' rainfall field. The study explicitly differentiates between the response of simulated saturation-excess runoff and infiltration-excess runoff to these uncertainties. The results indicate that infiltration-excess runoff generation is much more sensitive than saturation-excess runoff generation to both types of precipitation uncertainty. Furthermore, significant reductions in infiltration-excess runoff volume occur when the temporal and spatial resolution of the precipitation input is decreased. A method is developed to relate this storm-dependent reduction in runoff volume to the spatial heterogeneity of the highest-intensity rainfall periods during a storm.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2655-2670
Number of pages16
JournalWater Resources Research
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1998


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Water Science and Technology

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