Estimating rainfall time series and model parameter distributions using model data reduction and inversion techniques

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Floods are devastating natural hazards. To provide accurate, precise, and timely flood forecasts, there is a need to understand the uncertainties associated within an entire rainfall time series, even when rainfall was not observed. The estimation of an entire rainfall time series and model parameter distributions from streamflow observations in complex dynamic catchments adds skill to current areal rainfall estimation methods, allows for the uncertainty of entire rainfall input time series to be considered when estimating model parameters, and provides the ability to improve rainfall estimates from poorly gauged catchments. Current methods to estimate entire rainfall time series from streamflow records are unable to adequately invert complex nonlinear hydrologic systems. This study aims to explore the use of wavelets in the estimation of rainfall time series from streamflow records. Using the Discrete Wavelet Transform (DWT) to reduce rainfall dimensionality for the catchment of Warwick, Queensland, Australia, it is shown that model parameter distributions and an entire rainfall time series can be estimated. Including rainfall in the estimation process improves streamflow simulations by a factor of up to 1.78. This is achieved while estimating an entire rainfall time series, inclusive of days when none was observed. It is shown that the choice of wavelet can have a considerable impact on the robustness of the inversion. Combining the use of a likelihood function that considers rainfall and streamflow errors with the use of the DWT as a model data reduction technique allows the joint inference of hydrologic model parameters along with rainfall.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6407-6424
Number of pages18
JournalWater Resources Research
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2017


  • Bayesian statistics
  • Parameter estimation
  • Rainfall retrieval
  • Wavelet transform

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