Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Engineering Science


Civil and Environmental Engineering


Dr. Andrew Binns


Hydrological models rely on accurate precipitation data in order to produce results with a high degree of confidence and serve as valuable flood forecasting and warning tools. Gauge-radar merging methods combine rainfall estimates from rain gauges and weather radar in order to capitalize on the strengths of the individual instruments and produce precipitation data with greater accuracy for input to hydrological models. A comprehensive review of gauge-radar merging methods reveals that there is an opportunity for near-real time application in hydrological models. The performance of four well known gauge-radar merging methods, including mean field bias correction, Brandes spatial adjustment, local bias correction using kriging and conditional merging, are examined using Environment Canada radar and the Upper Thames River basin in southwestern Ontario, Canada, as a case study. The analysis assesses the effect of gauge-radar merging methods on: 1) the accuracy of predicted rainfall accumulations; and 2) the accuracy of predicted stream flows using a semi-distributed hydrological model. In addition, several influencing factors (i.e., gauge density, storm type, basin type, proximity to the radar tower and time-step of adjustment) are analysed to determine their effect on the performance of the rainfall estimation techniques. Results indicate that gauge-radar merging methods can increase the accuracy of both rainfall accumulation estimations and predicted stream flows over the use of raw radar and rain gauges alone. Results from this study provide guidance for hydrologists and engineers assessing whether the addition of corrected radar products will improve rainfall estimation and hydrological modelling accuracy.