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Comparing global precipitation datasets in eastern Africa: a case study of Kilombero valley, Tanzania

Journal article
Authors A. J. Koutsouris
Deliang Chen
S. W. Lyon
Published in International Journal of Climatology
Volume 36
Issue 4
Pages 2000-2014
ISSN 0899-8418
Publication year 2016
Published at Department of Earth Sciences
Pages 2000-2014
Language en
Subject categories Earth and Related Environmental Sciences


In the face of limited or no precipitation data, global precipitation data sets (GPDs) may provide a viable alternative to gauge or ground radar data. This study aims to provide guidance to the choice of GPDs targeting scales relevant to water resources management in data poor regions. Specifically, the 34 000 km2 Kilombero Valley in central Tanzania, where water resource management is seen as integral to poverty reduction and food security, is used as a case study for performance evaluation of seven GPDs and their ensemble mean against the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) multi-satellite precipitation analysis research-grade product v7 (TRMMv7). The GPDs include one satellite rainfall product [Climate Prediction Center morphing technique v1.0 CRT (CMORPH)], three reanalysis products [Climate Forecasting System Reanalysis (CFSR), European reanalysis interim (ERA-i) and Modern Era Retrospective-Analysis for Research and Applications (MERRA)] and three interpolated data sets [Climate Research Unit Time Series 3.21 (CRU), Global Precipitation and Climatology Center v6 data set (GPCC) and University of Delaware Air Temperature and Precipitation v3.01 data set (UDEL)]. Standard statistical performance measures and spatial patterns were evaluated for the common overlap time period 1998–2010. For this region, the principal seasonality of the climatology was well represented in all GPDs; however, the intraseasonal variability and the spatial precipitation patterns were less well represented. The ensemble mean and GPCC had the best performance with regard to the analysis of the time series while CMORPH and GPCC had the best performance with regard to the spatial pattern analysis. These results indicate that the spatial scale intended for application is a major factor impacting the suitability of a given GPD for hydrometrological studies that form a basis for development of water management strategies.

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