Date of Award


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Environmental Engineering (MS)

College, School or Department Name

Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering


Deborah K Nykanen


Characterizing the spatial scaling and dynamics of convective precipitation in mountainous terrain and the development of downscaling methods to transfer precipitation fields from one scale to another is the overall motivation for this research. Substantial progress has been made on characterizing the space-time organization of Midwestern convective systems and tropical rainfall, which has led to the development of statistical/dynamical downscaling models. Space-time analysis and downscaling of orographic precipitation has received less attention due to the complexities of topographic influences. This study uses multiscale statistical analysis to investigate the spatial scaling of organized thunderstorms that produce heavy rainfall and flooding in mountainous regions. Focus is placed on the eastern and western slopes of the Appalachian region and the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains. Parameter estimates are analyzed over time and attention is given to linking changes in the multiscale parameters with meteorological forcings and orographic influences on the rainfall. Influences of geographic regions and predominant orographic controls on trends in multiscale properties of precipitation are investigated. Spatial resolutions from 1 km to 50 km are considered. This range of spatial scales is needed to bridge typical scale gaps between distributed hydrologic models and numerical weather prediction (NWP) forecasts and attempts to address the open research problem of scaling organized thunderstorms and convection in mountainous terrain down to 1-4 km scales.