Simulating rainfall time-series: how to account for statistical variability at multiple scales?

  • Fabio Oriani
  • Raj Mehrotra
  • Grégoire Mariethoz
  • Julien Straubhaar
  • Ashish Sharma
  • Philippe Renard
Original Paper


Daily rainfall is a complex signal exhibiting alternation of dry and wet states, seasonal fluctuations and an irregular behavior at multiple scales that cannot be preserved by stationary stochastic simulation models. In this paper, we try to investigate some of the strategies devoted to preserve these features by comparing two recent algorithms for stochastic rainfall simulation: the first one is the modified Markov model, belonging to the family of Markov-chain based techniques, which introduces non-stationarity in the chain parameters to preserve the long-term behavior of rainfall. The second technique is direct sampling, based on multiple-point statistics, which aims at simulating a complex statistical structure by reproducing the same data patterns found in a training data set. The two techniques are compared by first simulating a synthetic daily rainfall time-series showing a highly irregular alternation of two regimes and then a real rainfall data set. This comparison allows analyzing the efficiency of different elements characterizing the two techniques, such as the application of a variable time dependence, the adaptive kernel smoothing or the use of low-frequency rainfall covariates. The results suggest, under different data availability scenarios, which of these elements are more appropriate to represent the rainfall amount probability distribution at different scales, the annual seasonality, the dry-wet temporal pattern, and the persistence of the rainfall events.


Rainfall Simulation Markov chain Multiple point statistics Long-term Time-series 



This research was funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (Project No. 134614) and the National Centre for Groundwater Research and Training (Australia). We thank Prof. Geoffrey G.S. Pegram for his review and suggested modifications prior to the submission of the final version of this paper. The data used to produce the results of this paper are freely available upon request to the corresponding author.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of HydrologyGeological Survey of Denmark and GreenlandCopenhagen KDenmark
  2. 2.School of Civil and Environmental EngineeringUniversity of New South WalesSydneyAustralia
  3. 3.Institute of Earth Surface DynamicsUniversité de LausanneLausanneSwitzerland
  4. 4.Centre for Hydrogeology and GeothermicsUniversité de NeuchâtelNeuchâtelSwitzerland

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