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Guoqiang Tang, Martyn P. Clark, and Simon Michael Papalexiou

Abstract

Stations are an important source of meteorological data, but often suffer from missing values and short observation periods. Gap filling is widely used to generate serially complete datasets (SCDs), which are subsequently used to produce gridded meteorological estimates. However, the value of SCDs in spatial interpolation is scarcely studied. Based on our recent efforts to develop a SCD over North America (SCDNA), we explore the extent to which gap filling improves gridded precipitation and temperature estimates. We address two specific questions: 1) Can SCDNA improve the statistical accuracy of gridded estimates in North America? 2) Can SCDNA improve estimates of trends on gridded data? In addressing these questions, we also evaluate the extent to which results depend on the spatial density of the station network and the spatial interpolation methods used. Results show that the improvement in statistical interpolation due to gap filling is more obvious for precipitation, followed by minimum temperature and maximum temperature. The improvement is larger when the station network is sparse and when simpler interpolation methods are used. SCDs can also notably reduce the uncertainties in spatial interpolation. Our evaluation across North America from 1979 to 2018 demonstrates that SCDs improve the accuracy of interpolated estimates for most stations and days. SCDNA-based interpolation also obtains better trend estimation than observation-based interpolation. This occurs because stations used for interpolation could change during a specific period, causing changepoints in interpolated temperature estimates and affect the long-term trends of observation-based interpolation, which can be avoided using SCDNA. Overall, SCDs improve the performance of gridded precipitation and temperature estimates.

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Guoqiang Tang, Martyn P. Clark, and Simon Michael Papalexiou

Abstract

Meteorological data from ground stations suffer from temporal discontinuities caused by missing values and short measurement periods. Gap-filling and reconstruction techniques have proven to be effective in producing serially complete station datasets (SCDs) that are used for a myriad of meteorological applications (e.g., developing gridded meteorological datasets and validating models). To our knowledge, all SCDs are developed at regional scales. In this study, we developed the serially complete Earth (SC-Earth) dataset, which provides daily precipitation, mean temperature, temperature range, dewpoint temperature, and wind speed data from 1950 to 2019. SC-Earth utilizes raw station data from the Global Historical Climatology Network–Daily (GHCN-D) and the Global Surface Summary of the Day (GSOD). A unified station repository is generated based on GHCN-D and GSOD after station merging and strict quality control. ERA5 is optimally matched with station data considering the time shift issue and then used to assist the global gap filling. SC-Earth is generated by merging estimates from 15 strategies based on quantile mapping, spatial interpolation, machine learning, and multistrategy merging. The final estimates are bias corrected using a combination of quantile mapping and quantile delta mapping. Comprehensive validation demonstrates that SC-Earth has high accuracy around the globe, with degraded quality in the tropics and oceanic islands due to sparse station networks, strong spatial precipitation gradients, and degraded ERA5 estimates. Meanwhile, SC-Earth inherits potential limitations such as inhomogeneity and precipitation undercatch from raw station data, which may affect its application in some cases. Overall, the high-quality and high-density SC-Earth dataset will benefit research in fields of hydrology, ecology, meteorology, and climate. The dataset is available at https://zenodo.org/record/4762586.

Open access
Chandra Rupa Rajulapati, Simon Michael Papalexiou, Martyn P. Clark, Saman Razavi, Guoqiang Tang, and John W. Pomeroy

Abstract

Global gridded precipitation products have proven essential for many applications ranging from hydrological modeling and climate model validation to natural hazard risk assessment. They provide a global picture of how precipitation varies across time and space, specifically in regions where ground-based observations are scarce. While the application of global precipitation products has become widespread, there is limited knowledge on how well these products represent the magnitude and frequency of extreme precipitation—the key features in triggering flood hazards. Here, five global precipitation datasets (MSWEP, CFSR, CPC, PERSIANN-CDR, and WFDEI) are compared to each other and to surface observations. The spatial variability of relatively high precipitation events (tail heaviness) and the resulting discrepancy among datasets in the predicted precipitation return levels were evaluated for the time period 1979–2017. The analysis shows that 1) these products do not provide a consistent representation of the behavior of extremes as quantified by the tail heaviness, 2) there is strong spatial variability in the tail index, 3) the spatial patterns of the tail heaviness generally match the Köppen–Geiger climate classification, and 4) the predicted return levels for 100 and 1000 years differ significantly among the gridded products. More generally, our findings reveal shortcomings of global precipitation products in representing extremes and highlight that there is no single global product that performs best for all regions and climates.

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Chandra Rupa Rajulapati, Simon Michael Papalexiou, Martyn P. Clark, and John W. Pomeroy

Abstract

Gridded precipitation datasets are used in many applications such as the analysis of climate variability/change and hydrological modeling. Regridding precipitation datasets is common for model coupling (e.g., coupling atmospheric and hydrological models) or comparing different models and datasets. However, regridding can considerably alter precipitation statistics. In this global analysis, the effects of regridding a precipitation dataset are emphasized using three regridding methods (first-order conservative, bilinear, and distance-weighted averaging). The differences between the original and regridded dataset are substantial and greatest at high quantiles. Differences of 46 and 0.13 mm are noted in high (0.95) and low (0.05) quantiles, respectively. The impacts of regridding vary spatially for land and oceanic regions; there are substantial differences at high quantiles in tropical land regions, and at low quantiles in polar regions. These impacts are approximately the same for different regridding methods. The differences increase with the size of the grid at higher quantiles and vice versa for low quantiles. As the grid resolution increases, the difference between original and regridded data declines, yet the shift size dominates for high quantiles for which the differences are higher. While regridding is often necessary to use gridded precipitation datasets, it should be used with great caution for fine resolutions (e.g., daily and subdaily), because it can severely alter the statistical properties of precipitation, specifically at high and low quantiles.

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