Radar rainfall estimation of stratiform winter precipitation in the Belgian Ardennes

P. Hazenberg, H. Leijnse, R. Uijlenhoet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)


Radars are known for their ability to obtain a wealth of information about spatial storm field characteristics. Unfortunately, rainfall estimates obtained by this instrument are known to be affected by multiple sources of error. Especially for stratiform precipitation systems, the quality of radar rainfall estimates starts to decrease at relatively close ranges. In the current study, the hydrological potential of weather radar is analyzed during a winter half-year for the hilly region of the Belgian Ardennes. A correction algorithm is proposed which corrects the radar data for errors related to attenuation, ground clutter, anomalous propagation, the vertical profile of reflectivity (VPR), and advection. No final bias correction with respect to rain gauge data was implemented because such an adjustment would not add to a better understanding of the quality of the radar data. The impact of the different corrections is assessed using rainfall information sampled by 42 hourly rain gauges. The largest improvement in the quality of the radar data is obtained by correcting for ground clutter. The impact of VPR correction and advection depends on the spatial variability and velocity of the precipitation system. Overall during the winter period, the radar underestimates the amount of precipitation as compared to the rain gauges. Remaining differences between both instruments can be attributed to spatial and temporal variability in the type of precipitation, which has not been taken into account
Original languageEnglish
Article numberW02507
Number of pages15
JournalWater Resources Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • large-sample evaluation
  • real-time correction
  • weather radar
  • vertical profiles
  • flash-flood
  • nonprecipitating echoes
  • hydrological model
  • gauge measurements
  • size distribution
  • mountainous area


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