Applicability of open rainfall data to event-scale urban rainfall-runoff modelling

Tero J. Niemi, Lassi Warsta, Maija Taka, Brandon Hickman, Seppo Pulkkinen, Gerald Krebs, Dmitri N. Moisseev, Harri Koivusalo, Teemu Kokkonen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)
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Rainfall-runoff simulations in urban environments require meteorological input data with high temporal and spatial resolutions. The availability of precipitation data is constantly increasing due to the shift towards more open data sharing. However, the applicability of such data for urban runoff assessments is often unknown. Here, the feasibility of Finnish Meteorological Institute’s open rain gauge and open weather radar data as input sources was studied by conducting Storm Water Management Model simulations at a very small (33.5 ha) urban catchment in Helsinki, Finland. In addition to the open data sources, data were also available from two research gauges, one of them located on-site, and from a research radar. The results confirmed the importance of local precipitation measurements for urban rainfall-runoff simulations, implying the suitability of open gauge data to be largely dictated by the gauge’s distance from the catchment. Performance of open radar data with 5 min and 1 km² resolution was acceptable in terms of runoff reproduction, albeit peak flows were constantly and flow volumes often underestimated. Gauge adjustment and advection interpolation were found to improve the quality of the radar data, and at least gauge adjustment should be performed when open radar data are used. Finally, utilizing dual-polarization capabilities of radars has a potential to improve rainfall estimates for high intensity storms although more research is still needed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)143–155
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Hydrology
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2017
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • SWMM
  • rain gauge
  • radar
  • open data
  • urban hydrology


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