Assessing the Impact of the Urban Landscape on Extreme Rainfall Characteristics Triggering Flood Hazards

Umer, Yakob; Jetten, Victor; Ettema, Janneke; Steeneveld, Gert-Jan


This study configures the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model with the updated urban fraction for optimal rainfall simulation over Kampala, Uganda. The urban parameter values associated with urban fractions are adjusted based on literature reviews. An extreme rainfall event that triggered a flood hazard in Kampala on 25 June 2012 is used for the model simulation. Observed rainfall from two gauging stations and satellite rainfall from Climate Hazards Group InfraRed Precipitation with Station data (CHIRPS) are used for model validation. We compared the simulation using the default urban fraction with the updated urban fraction focusing on extreme rainfall amount and spatial-temporal rainfall distribution. Results indicate that the simulated rainfall is overestimated compared to CHIRPS and underestimated when comparing gridcell values with gauging station records. However, the simulation with updated urban fraction shows relatively better results with a lower absolute relative error score than when using default simulation. Our findings indicated that the WRF model configuration with default urban fraction produces rainfall amount and its spatial distribution outside the city boundary. In contrast, the updated urban fraction has peak rainfall events within the urban catchment boundary, indicating that a proper Numerical Weather Prediction rainfall simulation must consider the urban morphological impact. The satellite-derived urban fraction represents a more realistic urban extent and intensity than the default urban fraction and, thus, produces more realistic rainfall characteristics over the city. The use of explicit urban fractions will be crucial for assessing the effects of spatial differences in the urban morphology within an urban fraction, which is vital for understanding the role of urban green areas on the local climate.