Impact of rainfall spatial aggregation on the identification of debris flow occurrence thresholds

Francesco Marra (1), Elisa Destro (2), Efthymios I. Nikolopoulos (3), Davide Zoccatelli (1,2), Jean Dominique Creutin (4), Fausto Guzzetti (5), and Marco Borga (2), 2017, Impact of rainfall spatial aggregation on the identification of debris flow occurrence thresholds, Hydrology and earth system sciences (Online) 21 (2017): 4525–4532. doi_10.5194/hess-21-4525-2017,
URL: http://www.cnr.it/prodotto/i/375436

The systematic underestimation observed in de- bris flow early warning thresholds has been associated with the use of sparse rain gauge networks to represent highly non-stationary rainfall fields. Remote sensing products per- mit concurrent estimates of debris-flow-triggering rainfall for areas poorly covered by rain gauges, but the impact of using coarse spatial resolutions to represent such rainfall fields is still to be assessed. This study uses fine-resolution radar data for ~ 100 debris flows in the eastern Italian Alps to (i) quan- tify the effect of spatial aggregation (1-20 km grid size) on the estimation of debris-flow-triggering rainfall and on the identification of early warning thresholds and (ii) compare thresholds derived from aggregated estimates and rain gauge networks of different densities. The impact of spatial aggre-gation is influenced by the spatial organization of rainfall and by its dependence on the severity of the triggering rainfall. Thresholds from aggregated estimates show 8-21 % varia- tion in the parameters whereas 10-25 % systematic variation results from the use of rain gauge networks, even for densi- ties as high as 1/10 km-2.

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