Investigation of the performance of a simple rainfall disaggregation scheme using semi-distributed hydrological modelling of the Lee catchment, UK

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A simple and practical spatial–temporal disaggregation scheme to convert observed daily rainfall to hourly data is presented, in which the observed sub-daily temporal profile available at one gauge is applied linearly to all sites over the catchment to reproduce the spatially varying daily totals. The performance of the methodology is evaluated using an event-based, semi-distributed, nonlinear hydrological rainfall–runoff model to test the suitability of the disaggregation scheme for UK conditions for catchment sizes of 80–1,000 km2. The joint procedure is tested on the Lee catchment, UK, for five events from a 12 year period of data from 16 rain gauges and 12 flow stations. The disaggregation scheme generally performs extremely well in reproducing the simulated flow for the natural catchments, although, as expected, performance deteriorates for localized convective rainfall. However, some reduction in performance occurs when the catchments are artificially urbanised.

Keywords: disaggregation, rainfall, runoff, semi-distributed modelling

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