Journal article

Variability of the spatial structure of intense Mediterranean precipitation

Intense Mediterranean precipitation can generate devastating flash floods. A better understanding of the spatial structure of intense rainfall is critical to better identify catchments that will produce strong hydrological responses. We focus on two intense Mediterranean rain events of different types that occured in 2002. Radar and rain gauge measurements are combined to have a data set with a high spatial (1x1 km2) and temporal (5 min) resolution. Two thresholds are determined using the quantiles of the rain rate values, corresponding to the precipitating system at large and to the intense rain cells. A method based on indicator variograms associated with the thresholds is proposed in order to automatically quantify the spatial structure at each time step during the entire rain events. Therefore its variability within intense rain events can be investigated. The spatial structure is found to be homogeneous over periods that can be related to the dynamics of the events. Moreover, a decreasing time resolution (i.e., increasing accumulation period) of the rain rate data will stretch the spatial structure because of the advection of rain cells by the wind. These quantitative characteristics of the spatial structure of intense Mediterranean rainfall will be useful to improve our understanding of the dynamics of flash floods.

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