Geostatistical Analysis of Rainfall

Geographical Analysis, Volume 42 Issue 2 (April 2010) p 136-160

David I. F. Grimes and Eulogio Pardo-Igúzquiza

“Rainfall can be modeled as a spatially correlated random field superimposed on a background mean value; therefore, geostatistical methods are appropriate for the analysis of rain gauge data. Nevertheless, there are certain typical features of these data that must be taken into account to produce useful results, including the generally non-Gaussian mixed distribution, the inhomogeneity and low density of observations, and the temporal and spatial variability of spatial correlation patterns. Many studies show that rigorous geostatistical analysis performs better than other available interpolation techniques for rain gauge data. Important elements are the use of climatological variograms and the appropriate treatment of rainy and nonrainy areas. Benefits of geostatistical analysis for rainfall include ease of estimating areal averages, estimation of uncertainties, and the possibility of using secondary information (e.g., topography). Geostatistical analysis also facilitates the generation of ensembles of rainfall fields that are consistent with a given set of observations, allowing for a more realistic exploration of errors and their propagation in downstream models, such as those used for agricultural or hydrological forecasting. This article provides a review of geostatistical methods used for kriging, exemplified where appropriate by daily rain gauge data from Ethiopia.”