Commercial microwave links instead of rain gauges: fiction or reality?

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Commercial microwave links (MWLs) were suggested about a decade ago as a new source for quantitative precipitation estimates (QPEs). Meanwhile, the theory is well understood and rainfall monitoring with MWLs is on its way to being a mature technology, with several well-documented case studies, which investigate QPEs from multiple MWLs on the mesoscale. However, the potential of MWLs to observe microscale rainfall variability, which is important for urban hydrology, has not been investigated yet. In this paper, we assess the potential of MWLs to capture the spatio-temporal rainfall dynamics over small catchments of a few square kilometres. Specifically, we investigate the influence of different MWL topologies on areal rainfall estimation, which is important for experimental design or to a priori check the feasibility of using MWLs. In a dedicated case study in Prague, Czech Republic, we collected a unique dataset of 14 MWL signals with a temporal resolution of a few seconds and compared the QPEs from the MWLs to reference rainfall from multiple rain gauges. Our results show that, although QPEs from most MWLs are probably positively biased, they capture spatio-temporal rainfall variability on the microscale very well. Thus, they have great potential to improve runoff predictions. This is especially beneficial for heavy rainfall, which is usually decisive for urban drainage design.

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