Precipitation on Arid or Semi-Arid Regions of the Southwestern United States: Research Needs from a Consultant's Perspective

by Michael E. Zeller, Li & Associates, Inc., Tucson, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Hydraulics/Hydrology of Arid Lands (H²AL)


In terms of both instantaneous flow peaks and total runoff volumes, a key element in the quantification of stormwater runoff from arid and semi-arid regions of the southwestern United States is the proper characterization of the amount and spatial/temporal distribution of precipitation that occurs during individual rainfall events--especially the high-intensity, convective thunderstorms which are typical of these locales. In recent years, the advent of the personal computer has enabled both engineers and hydrologists to mathematically model the physical processes of rainfall/runoff in ever increasing detail; yet the basic input parameter of 'precipitation', and its influence upon the output of such mathematical models, still lacks the necessary standardization to produce useable results with a high degree of confidence when calibration data is either limited or altogether lacking, as is often the case within arid and semi-arid regions of the southwestern United States. This paper is intended to present one consultant's perspective on the research needs for characterizing precipitation on arid and semi-arid regions of the southwestern United States. Its focus will be upon calling attention to the need for development of improved rainfall/runoff algorithms through research of the interaction between high-intensity, convective thunderstorm precipitation (amount and spatial/temporal distribution) and the land surface, including vegetation, soil types, and land use-particularly urbanization by man.

Subject Headings: Arid lands | Computer models | Hydrologic models | Precipitation | Consulting services | Spatial distribution | Storms | Mathematical models | United States

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