Estimating Drought Conditions for Regions with Limited Precipitation Data

Jinyoung Rhee Department of Geography, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina

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Gregory J. Carbone Department of Geography, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina

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Abstract

Three closely related issues that affect drought estimation in regions with limited precipitation data are addressed by investigating methods for filling missing daily precipitation data, handling short-term records, and deriving drought information for unsampled locations. The analysis yields three general conclusions: 1) it is better to conduct spatial interpolation prior to calculating drought index values, 2) using weather stations with moderate lengths of records (usually at least 10 years) improves the spatial–temporal characterization of drought, and 3) alternative precipitation sources of the National Weather Service multisensor precipitation rainfall estimates and the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite monthly rainfall product (3B43) do not outperform spatially interpolated daily precipitation data in most regions, except in the western United States where the TRMM-based precipitation data work better than the spatially interpolated values for drought monitoring.

Corresponding author address: Jinyoung Rhee, Department of Geography, University of South Carolina, 709 Bull Street, Columbia, SC 29208. Email: jyrhee@gmail.com

Abstract

Three closely related issues that affect drought estimation in regions with limited precipitation data are addressed by investigating methods for filling missing daily precipitation data, handling short-term records, and deriving drought information for unsampled locations. The analysis yields three general conclusions: 1) it is better to conduct spatial interpolation prior to calculating drought index values, 2) using weather stations with moderate lengths of records (usually at least 10 years) improves the spatial–temporal characterization of drought, and 3) alternative precipitation sources of the National Weather Service multisensor precipitation rainfall estimates and the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite monthly rainfall product (3B43) do not outperform spatially interpolated daily precipitation data in most regions, except in the western United States where the TRMM-based precipitation data work better than the spatially interpolated values for drought monitoring.

Corresponding author address: Jinyoung Rhee, Department of Geography, University of South Carolina, 709 Bull Street, Columbia, SC 29208. Email: jyrhee@gmail.com

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