Development and evaluation of techniques for estimating short duration design rainfall in South Africa.
The objective of the study was to update and improve the reliability and accuracy of short duration (s 24 h) design rainfall values for South Africa. These were to be based on digitised rainfall data whereas previous studies conducted on a national scale in South Africa were based on data that were manually extracted from autographic charts. With the longer rainfall records currently available compared to the studies conducted in the early 1980s, it was expected that by utilising the longer, digitised rainfall data in conjunction with regional approaches, which have not previously been applied in South Africa, that more reliable short duration design rainfall values could Ix: estimated. A short duration rainfall database was established for South Africa with the majority of the data contributed by the South African Weather Bureau (SAWB). Numerous errors such as negative and zero time steps were identified in the SAWB digitised rainfall data. Automated procedures were developed to identify the probable cause of the errors and appropriate adjustments to the data were made. In cases where the cause of the error could be established, the data were adjusted to introduce randomly either the minimum, average or maximum intensity into the data as a result of the adjustment. The effect of the adjustments was found to have no significant effect on the extracted Annual Maximum Series (AMS). However, the effect of excluding erroneous points or events with erroneous points resulted in significantly different AMS. The low reliability of much of the digitised SAW B rainfall data was evident by numerous and large differences between daily rainfall totals recorded by standard, non-recording raingauges, measured at 08:00 every day, and the total rainfall depth for the equivalent period extracted from the digitised data. Hence alternative techniques of estimating short duration rainfall values were developed, with the focus on regional approaches and techniques that could be derived from daily rainfall totals measured by standard raingauges. Three approaches to estimating design storms from the unreliable short duration rainfall database were developed and evaluated. The first approach used a regional frequency analysis, the second investigated scaling relationships of the moments of the extreme events and the third approach used a stochastic intra-daily model to generate synthetic rainfall series. In the regional frequency analyses, 15 relatively homogeneous rainfall clusters were identified in South Africa and a regional index storm based approach using L-moments was applied. Homogeneous clusters were identified using site characteristics and tested using at-site data. The mean of the AMS was used as the index value and in 13 of the 15 relatively homogeneous clusters the index value for 24 h durations were well estimated as a function of site characteristics only, thus enabling the estimation of 24 h duration design rainfall values at any location in South Africa. In 13 of the 15 clusters the scaling properties of the moments of the AMS were used to successfully estimate design rainfall values for duration < 24h, using the moments of the AMS extracted from the data recorded by standard raingauges and regional relationships based on site characteristics. It was found that L-moments scaled better and over a wider range of durations than ordinary product moments. A methodology was developed for the derivation of the parameters for two Bartlett-Lewis rectangular pulse models using only standard raingauge data, thus enabling the estimation of design values for durations as short as 1 h at sites where only daily rainfall data are available. In view of the low reliability of the majority of short duration rainfall data in South Africa, it is recommended that the regional index value approach be adopted for South Africa, but scaled using values derived from the daily rainfall data. The use of the intra-daily stochastic rainfall models to estimate design rainfall values is recommended as further independent confirmation of the reliability of the design values.