Using satellite rainfall products to assess the triggering conditions for hydro-morphological processes in different geomorphological settings in China
Hydro-morphological processes (HMP, i.e. all processes contained within the spectrum defined between debris flows and flash floods) initiate in response to intense rainfall events. Efficient HMP hazard assessment over large regions is often hindered because of limited rainfall observations over mountainous areas. Real-time and easily accessible satellite rainfall products offer new opportunities to address the observational coverage problem in ungauged catchments. In this work, two satellite rainfall products, Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) and Climate Hazards Group Infrared Precipitation with Station Data (CHIRPS), are investigated by taking the ground measurements as a reference. Based on a close agreement between GPM and rain gauge data, daily rainfall together with a series of antecedent rainfall values were calculated to investigate the spatio-temporal distribution of HMP occurred from 2001 to 2015 across the whole Chinese territory. Ultimately, rainfall thresholds for HMP initiation within different geomorphological settings in China were obtained by: (1) building antecedent rainfall sequences consisting of HMP and non-HMP via 100 nonparametric bootstrapped replicates; (2) testing several percentiles of the rainfall distribution as thresholds for HMP occurrence; (3) optimizing rainfall thresholds for six geomorphological macro-regions in China. This study confirmed the ability of satellite data in defining the rainfall conditions for the triggering of HMP, acknowledging the potential underestimation and/or bias that characterize any satellite rainfall products. Our findings provides new insight on rainfall conditions responsible for HMP initiation at the Chinese national scale.