UW-Madison Project Leads:
- Daniel Wright, PhD, Assistant Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering
- David Lorenz, PhD, Associate Scientist, Nelson Institute Center for Climatic Research
Planning and design of infrastructure including detention ponds, dams, bridges, and culverts depends on rainfall statistics such as the “100-year storm.” Recent UW-Madison research has shown that existing rainfall statistics including those from the National Weather Service’s Atlas 14 are badly out date due to recent increases in the severity of extreme storms (see Figure 1). The long-term resiliency of Wisconsin’s infrastructure depends on updating these statistics to reflect both present-day and future conditions. This information will (ultimately) help engineers and planners systematically prioritize infrastructure investment.
The Wisconsin Rainfall Project is a proposed science/engineering effort from UW-Madison and the Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts (WICCI) aimed at producing three components of rainfall information for the infrastructure sector:
- Component 1: “Present day” rainfall statistics: We will use the RainyDay software to generate updated rainfall design statistics for 2- to 1000-years. Preliminary results (above) highlight the much larger estimates of 100-year rainfall from RainyDay, which uses more recent data than the widely-used Atlas 14.
- Component 2: “Future climate” rainfall statistics using UW Probabilistic Downscaling: We will use the UW Probabilistic Downscaling approach combined with the latest generation of climate model projections to generate 2- to 1000-year rainfall statistics for the years 2050 and 2075.
- Component 3: “Hyperresolution” rainfall data: We will use the Hydro-NEXRAD radar processor to create a first-of-its-kind rainfall dataset of major recent storms around the state (June 2008, July 2010, August 2018, and others) at the resolution needed for flood modeling.
Technical Advisory Committee: A Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) has been assembled in order to ensure the quality and usefulness of the project outputs. TAC members have been recruited from the recently-formed WICCI Infrastructure Working Group, and have substantial expertise in infrastructure design and planning. The TAC includes members from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, American Public Works Association, The Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission, The Cities of Madison and Brookfield, Emmons & Olivier Resources Inc., and other organizations.